While traveling through the deep south, a friend of mine stopped at a fast food restaurant. While he ate his hamburger, he watched the pouring rain outside. (You haven’t experienced rain until you’ve experienced it in the south. This was what was known as a “frog-choker” in local parlance.)
As he sat there, he noticed a young man take off his shoes and socks, put them in a plastic bag, cinch it up tight, and then leave the restaurant. He was walking down the street, in that downpour, barefoot. My friend turned to his companion and said, “Have you ever loved your shoes so much that you would go barefoot before getting them wet?”
Well, I must admit that I try not to wear suede shoes in the rain. They’d be ruined. But in that case, I just avoid wearing them on days when rain is in the forecast. I don’t see myself walking barefoot down a dirty public sidewalk.
But nowadays, shoes can cost upwards of a hundred dollars. I kind of admire this kid’s fastidiousness. I admire it even though I can’t imagine spending that kind of money on shoes. But who knows. These could have been some discount knock offs that didn’t cost much at all.
Value is relative. These might have been that boy’s first pair of new shoes, ever. Maybe he worked hard for those shoes. Scrimped and saved. Maybe they were the first things he ever bought with his very own money. Maybe those shoes, for him, were an achievement that he was truly proud of. Maybe they were the beginning of a lifetime of goal-setting and ultimate success.
We’ll never know the rest of this story, but I hope that young man keeps on walking. At that pace, he’ll go places.
The sense I use the most to explore the world is touch. I’m an extremely tactile person. Getting the feel of things is how I comprehend them.
I suspect that most people think that I fidget too much. While I’m listening to others, my hands are often in motion. If there’s anything slippery or soft or oddly shaped in my presence, I’m petting it like a pedigree cat. If I’m wearing clothing with complex stitching, I’m tracing its contours, over and over and over again.
I pet my dog so much that I’m amazed he has any fur left on his body. He seems to like it, though. At least, he keeps coming back for more. (I can’t imagine owning a Mexican Hairless, but I’m dying to know what one feels like.)
I don’t mind navigating dark spaces if I’m familiar with them, because my hands and feet tell me where I am. If I were to go blind, I might be upset, but I’d quickly adapt. (I would like to know how touching someone’s face helps a blind person visualize it, but it’s not like I can walk up to people and ask to touch their faces.)
If I’m told not to touch something, it drives me absolutely nuts. I become obsessed. What does that thing feel like? I have to know! Fortunately, my desire to follow the rules is stronger than my desire to inspect. Usually. So the Mona Lisa would be safe with me. Probably.
I absolutely love holding my husband’s hand. I adore sincere hugs. I love baths because they feel like full body hugs. Walking barefoot seems like the ultimate luxury to me.
Am I weird, or is this normal? Does this resonate with you, dear reader? If it does, I’d like to shake your hand.
One of the best things about the advent of spring is that I find more and more opportunities to walk barefoot. I love the feeling of grass under my feet and sand between my toes. I love feeling connected to the planet, especially after long months of raw, bitter, wet, isolating cold.
In particular, I love the grass out west. It’s soft and smooth, like the grass of my Connecticut childhood. In the South, one is forced to live with St. Augustine grass, which is actually lumpy and painful to walk on. That, and you have to watch out for fire ants and snakes and scorpions and hostile plant life. It’s not the same experience at all. (But I do miss walking on Southern beaches! Warm sand, not painful rocks!)
But walking barefoot, or “earthing”, is now being scientifically studied. It comes as no surprise to me that people are discovering that there are actual health benefits to the practice. I know I feel calmer and happier and much more centered when I’m barefoot.
According to this article, scientists are discovering that earthing improves sleep, reduces inflammation, and increases antioxidants. It has something to do with having direct contact with the electrons that the planet produces. It also reduces stress, regulates glucose and heartbeat, and increases immunity. According to this article, walking barefoot also helps loosen tense muscles, relieves headaches, reduces menstrual cramps, and boosts energy levels.
Whether or not these studies stand up to further investigation, I just know, instinctively, that I feel better when I can feel the earth beneath my feet. After all, we evolved to live upon it. Our very existence depends on it. We are meant to be connected to it. I find it sad that our idea of “progress” is removing us more and more from the natural world.