My New Shoes
I buy new shoes because my old ones are wearing out. There comes a point when, however comfortable the old pair, I acknowledge that they are approaching the end of their useful life. If I try to wear them for too long they will deteriorate rapidly, go into holes, start letting the water in on a wet day. So I head to the shoe shop, usually with little idea of what I am looking for beyond the fact that I want them to be comfortable, a good fit for me. I try on several pairs. Each feels strange to my habituated feet which persistently ask to be returned to the shoes that are familiar. They want what they know, these feet of mine. They would wear the same shoes forever if they could.
But I know their comfort will not last as the old pair approach the end of their life. So, of all the pairs offered to me I choose the ones that feel the most right – the ones that my intuition tells me will hold me best through my next steps.
Sometimes I take someone with me for the benefit of a second opinion but ultimately the decision is mine and mine alone. Colours that suit my sense of self. Style that is compatible with my expression of my identity. But comfort is always paramount. These new shoes have far to take me. I don’t want to have to replace them again too soon if possible.
I make my choice and ask the shop assistant to put them into a bag. With some relief, I put my old, comfortable pair back on my feet. My feet are grateful. They did not enjoy the experience of newness and gravitate back to the familiar. But they know that change must soon come. They are reconciled to there being a last day that they will spend in those old shoes. Not yet, though. I am not asking them to relinquish their comfort with the old pair too suddenly. I will give them time to acclimatise to what is new, for I am considerate of my feet. I am grateful for their lifelong service. They have carried me far and we have yet some distance to travel together.
Back at home, the day comes to wear the new shoes for the first time. I step into them carefully, easing them on gently for they too must become used to what is at first unfamiliar. Shoes need as much time to adjust to feet as feet need to adjust to shoes. Then off we go. By the end of the day I will be grateful to remove them. What is new is hard work. Adjustment does not come easily. If the new shoes are particularly difficult to adjust to, I may even returned to the old pair periodically for short periods as I ease my feet congruently into what is new. But I always know when the transition is complete. The moment always comes when that which was alien feels familiar, when my new shoes are as much a part of my journey as the old ones ever were.
And should I have cause to retain the old ones for occasional use in gardening or perhaps decorating, they will become the ones that feel unfamiliar. Why did I ever linger so long in these old shoes? I will ask myself. They are no longer a part of my journey. They hold memories of who I was and where we went together, for sure. But they are not for now. Not for this moment. Not for the future moments to come. I and my feet have moved on. Eventually, when they have no more relevance, I will drop them into the recycling bin, if possible. Perhaps they will find a new purpose. I will relinquish them respectfully, for they are a part of my past, a part of my journey that was. And in time they will return to the Earth from which they came. Though we remain grateful, my feet and I will not mourned them. We have new shoes. We have moved on.