Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Two pairs of shoes

Terms for Google to grab: affluence - women's shoes - Nike - choice - Zen - Red Box

This morning my right shoe felt funny. This is the same shoe I wore yesterday, the woefully overpriced Nike's the physical therapists encouraged me to get fitted for. Mostly the only shoes I wear now, except - uh-oh - last week I had used the black Avia's instead.

I do not have the kind of shoe dilemma I once had when I would be getting dressed to go to work or out to dinner, and so often didn't have quite the right shoe. Or did have the right shoe and it was boring or getting worn or scuffed. Now I have only the two pair, and it's sort of dumb luck that I even have the Avia's left over from my high-consumption days.

Right away I wondered whether I had transferred the heel lift from the Avia to today's Nike. I sat down, took the right shoe off, pryed out the custom orthotic: aha! There was no heel lift. Limp to the bedroom, me and the cat, where the Avia's sit primly against the wall. Yes, the heel lift was still in them. That's the kind of trouble you get in when you have more than one pair of shoes., I think. Then I realize that all over the world there are people who have no shoes! Then there are people who fashion sandals out of old rubber tires, and win marathons in them. Many of us here in America, where the TVs shout commercials about shoe organizers, can't imagine that life.

I don't have many shoes to organize these days, not much to choose from. This seems like a very good thing to me. When I look at the clothes in my closet, I often wish I had even less to choose from. When I am not going anywhere special I will wear the same old things day after day, well-worn yoga pants (nothing is as comfortable), a gray tee-shirt (I have several), and a flannel shirt. I am sadly leaving go of my old flannel shirt, a navy blue plaid with a pink stripe through it, because I've gone through the right elbow, just wore the fabric tissue thin. The new one, which I found at the thrift store, is breaking in nicely. Sometimes I consider becoming a Zen monk or nun in some official way that would entail shaving my head and wearing the same old robe day after day, but I feel it would make some of my friends nervous. I am already weird enough.

I am already weird. Comfort matters to me much more than how I might be evaluated by people I hardly know, people at church or in the checkout line or at the voting place I will go to later today. That's another thing people all over the world cannot count on - being able to vote without being shot, or put on a list. Having the vote count honestly. I know a woman who hates our country, and would tell you right away that we've had times and places where voting wasn't honest. Yes, okay. We're human. Maybe you can never get away from that. But it's the exception here.

I don't like the frontier land-grab aspect of this country either. All those damn shoes in a dusty organizer under the bed. Sometimes we're so selfish it's disgusting. But it's where I happen to live. I am happy to live in a time and place where I can be weird. Amazed to sit in a room that is just my room to play in, with a computer that tells me I am not spelling the word "weird" right, again; and fixes it for me.

But having All This means having choice. Too much choice - it's like too much food, another American problem, and one very few people have ever had in the course of history. In regard to choice, I find a new phenomenon called Red Box interesting. These tall red kiosks stand inside McDonald's and the grocery stores. They hold just a few DVD's of the most popular movies, 200 max. This compares to a service we use, Netflix, that has many thousands - too much choice, it becomes a problem. Part of the success of Red Box is that it offers so few choices, you can stop and push a button and shazam! you're out of there. It also costs only $1 for one night. (I don't know what the late charge is. I do know that returning DVD's on time is a chore I was not very good at, back when we used to get them from the library.)

I get up in the morning now and face very little choice in many ways, but it is consumer goods I am talking about today. Clothes. It is late fall here, and I almost certainly want to wear my new-old flannel shirt, and the only tee-shirt color it goes with is gray. Since it is sunny and not yet slushy and snowy, I will stick with the Nike's, which have a summer sort of mesh construction. Changing shoes means something goes wrong, like the heel lift, and there you are, wasting time writing a blog about it.

I often wonder what I do write about here. It seems to me all I have to offer is the truth of my life, and that is very simple. Until I hear from them, I don't know I am talking to friends in the Phillipines and Scotland and New Orleans and Portland and across town. Maybe I will hear from Helen, the teenager in South Africa who wrote me about my Princess story. Sometimes it truly seems like enough just to hear from people, to know I am read. That connecting feels very good. Feels like a spiritual matter. Some people say it's the only thing that counts.


  1. "All I have to offer is the truth of my life..." Your transparency inspires and teaches me to live with openness and honesty. When I read what you write, I pause. I appreciate this stillness. I laugh. More often I cry--not in sadness. I cry in gratitude and newly awakened awareness.

    I think the reaction icons below your writing could be edited to:

    heart warming
    gut wrenching
    brain jolting

    or how about

    slowed me down
    stopped me cold
    shoved me over the edge

    You are read. Oh my, Jeanne, yes. Everyday.

    I write a blog and when I see a posted comment my eyes light up. Feedback reminds me I'm not just writing for myself. That feels nice.
    Susan Michael Barrett

  2. I consider you a true companion on the spiritual path -- the whole of the holy life.

  3. Hm.. if you write here everyday, you'd be read every day. Your writing here reminds me of Barbara Kingsolver's essays (which is a compliment, unless you dislike her then I take it back :) Poignant, honest, funny and full of little wisdoms.. I could go on. Anyway, you are read, and I would leave a comment everytime if I have something to say all the time.

    Yes, too many choices makes life complicated. I choose to live simply now, and choose only the essentials in life.

  4. Yes. You are read! I love your sense of humor! This blogging stuff can give one the feeling you're screaming into an abyss. Support and encouragement so lift the spirit. I too, have considered the path of robes and head-shaving... but that's another story.