Who are you, and where are you going? Walk a day in your Shoes
Cinderella knows that one shoe can change your life. Marilyn Monroe claimed the right pair of shoes could help someone conquer the world. Dr. Suess throws his wit at us, “You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself in any direction you choose. You're on your own, and you know what you know. And you are the guy who'll decide where to go.”
Our feet move us forward, our shoes keep them safe. They are a reflection of our style, make us feel a certain way - a purposeful adornment that almost all of us use. Funnily enough, they can also tell us a lot about ourselves, where we are going, where we’ve been. “It’s only in the world of objects that we have time and space,” reminds the great T.S. Eliot.
Shoes are a good metaphor for, at the risk of sounding deliciously cheesy, moving through the journey of our lives. I challenge everyone to go through the exercise of choosing three shoes from their important moments. It’s a silly exercise, something that could even be a fun topic for a dinner party, or drinking night out. Though, you might be surprised at what comes out and up . . .
1. Pick a Shoe From Your Childhood
For me, my most bestest, most loved, most agonized over shoes were my basketball sneakers. I was a gangly, pale little thing who loved sports and was the epitome of a tomboy. I wore my sneakers ALL the time and actively coveted the latest Air Jordan’s for every birthday. These memories delight me to no end, as now I won’t wear sneakers out of the house unless it involves me working out. Yes, sports taught me how to communicate with my peers and work together – blah, blah blah – but most importantly, it reminds me of a time when I survived and pushed through. I had some medical problems growing up, and being super active and very clumsy, also lots of broken bones. There were times I was depressed and miserable, and I hated the world then. Life didn’t seem fair. Thinking about them reminds me that everything passes with enough effort and belief.
2. The Favorite Shoe You've Ever Owned
My cherry red, peep-toe Louboutins. Yep, a little change from my scuffed basketball shoes above! I saved for months and months to buy these shoes to wear on my wedding day. I was convinced I had to have red shoes, and they had to be the sexiest, classiest things I had ever seen. They made quite the impression, but it was the taking them off that I remember the most. Now, get your minds slightly out of the gutter. It does involve the wedding night, but not necessarily in the way you might think. After wearing these ruby slippers for hours of revelry, when we finally got to our wedding night hotel, my feet were hurting so much I nearly cried in relief when I kicked them off. I have this vivid picture of my husband and I sitting on the side of the bathtub in this gorgeous lake-side, Italian grand hotel, soaking our feet and eating room service at 4am in the morning. This was before we literally crashed into bed. I LOVE that memory. Today, those beauties are still sitting proudly in my closet, a glorious reminder of a pivotal, incredible life moment. That a very expensive pair of heels are so important to me may seem a bit ridiculous to some, but no one can tell you what’s important in life. The most vital thing is what you love, and to embrace that without apology.
3. What Shoe in your Closet Defines you Today
Very surprisingly, I can’t stop thinking of my banged up, stinky hiking boots. I’d like to choose my favorite pair of beautiful suede boots, or my funny Disney slippers (Yes, I have adult Disney slippers. Don’t judge.), but I can’t get my mind off my hiking boots. Every year, with a couple of the closest people to me, we go on a backpacking adventure somewhere random. I suppose this defines me now. Adventure and exploration . . .and, I’m not even super thrilled about hiking. For me, it’s a means to an end. Not the rush of ‘conquering the mountain’ or whatever, but seeing things that not many people get to see. That I might not get to see if I didn’t find some way to get there. Now, I’m flooded with memories that make me tear up and smile – anyhow, I’ll have to think about this one.
Something so simple can remind you of where you’ve been, what you’ve learned, and what you loved or hated about these moments. It can help you discover who you are and who you want to be. You could probably do this exercise with any object in your life, but shoes just seem fitting. Best of luck finding where you want to go next.