I have these shoes. I have had them for a long time now. My uncle treated me like a princess one afternoon during a weekend getaway from a very busy school year. I was exhausted and needed something. An unexpected afternoon with my uncle found me enjoying a pedicure he had arranged. I thought I was just delivering some things to my uncle at one of his department stores when upon my arrival he asked me to follow him. He is a busy man so I assumed we were to get in a quick chat while he carried on with his work. He took me to the shoe department. He said, I needed new shoes. I looked around, looked at my flip flops that were disgracing the shiny beautiful floor where they stood and the shoes that sat proudly and beautifully on displays all around me. My feet were a disaster. I am embarrassed to say how disgraceful they were. They certainly had no business sliding into such gorgeous shoe wear. My uncle was one step ahead of me. He informed me I would be getting new shoes, but first things first. We had to clean up these feet, get rid of the old chipping red nail polish and buff off the layer of callous, evidence of a way too busy life where feet were last on my to do list. So, I found myself in a spa with my feet getting a real make over. Gone was the chipping red nail polish, the dry rough skin, and the callouses that gave away just how long it had been since I had paid any attention to my personal needs. I walked out in my trashy flip flops with feet fit for size 5 1/2 Pradas, thank you very much. A wonderful gentleman who supervised the shoe department greeted me as I returned from my spa date. They saw my flip flops a mile away. He said I was to choose any shoes I wanted and he would personally assist me. After I recovered from the shock, I looked around at the choices. So many beautiful shoes. Well, there were too many to choose from. I spent a couple of hours trying on shoes and growing a pile beside me. My uncle returned and inspected the selections and then took his afternoon to personally shop for shoes with me. A woman needs shoes not only for different occasions or outfits, but for different experiences. We made quite a collection of shoes that day from confident shoes to Matt shoes (the pair for Matt to enjoy that aren't necessarily comfortable but attractive...) to playful shoes to teacher shoes. We were ready to go when he said I was missing a pair.
"You need happy shoes," he said. "You need a pair of shoes that when you put them on you feel joy." I was thinking flip flops, something familiar, comfortable. He said something that was fun, different from the usual. He chose these nutty bright pink shoes.
My happy shoes have been everywhere. I have worn them in mud, in rain, in four continents and 10 countries, on camping trips, to classes I taught and down graduation aisles. I love my shoes. But, they are more than shoes. I feel joy when I slip into them. They are odd and go with nothing I have but black, but they have a special place in my closet no matter where I have lived, including the fashionable streets of NYC. When I slip into these happy shoes there is usually a purpose behind it and it is usually about regaining a sense of joy whether through adventure, relaxation, play.... But always, it is because I have chosen them over what is expected. They are a shoe that serves no other purpose but joy. We all have closets of shoes. Shoes we wear to work, shoes we wear out on errands, shoes we wear to do the housework, yard work, social work, church work....Sometimes, we need so many shoes that our closet gets cluttered and messy and that pair of shoes that we love to slip in to just for the sake of slipping into or that pair that beckons us to our passion for adventure gets buried deep in the pile of shoes.
And so this week, I climbed into the deep messy dark closet and dug through the clutter and found my shoes. At the bottom of the closet. I slipped them on, grabbed my bag, my daughter, my pups and my husband and I walked out the door. No. We didn't move again. It was time to get some fresh perspective, to take a good look at my feet and just where they were going. So, I went to the woods to live deliberately... (more on my mentor, Thoreau, tomorrow). I cut ties with internet, facebook, twitter, cellphone, tv, and noise and we walked into a quiet peaceful place in the mountains of New England. I thought. I played. I rested. I regained some perspective. I reached some clarification. And tomorrow, change arrives.