Saturday, December 22, 2012

Walk a Mile...

It’s winter time.   The snow is deep and cold.  When I have to go out into it, I wear a pair of boots to protect my feet from the cold.  They are comfortable and warm and I bought them when I needed them from a store.  I chose them from among dozens of other possibilities for colour and style.  I had that option.
My warm and comfy winter boots.
A couple of weeks ago, a dear friend of mine returned from a month-long trip to India with a beautiful pair of shoes for me.  I was thrilled.  The soft camel hide hugs my feet and the hand-stitched and brightly-coloured pattern pleases me. 

The beautiful, hand-stitched shoes my friend
brought me back from India.
I have a thing about feet.  (Feet – not shoes!)  I don’t have tons of shoes, but I love pampering my feet and so when I do buy shoes, I look for comfort above all.  Colour and design are close seconds. 

The other day another friend of mine, a man I admire for the many things he taught me about life and business, among other things, came into the library and presented me with one of the most amazing pairs of shoes I have ever seen.  They are a simple pair of flip flops cut from old tires.  Two thin straps, one for the big toe and one for the arch have been fastened on with nails and then painted bright yellow, green and orange.  They are the most uncomfortable things I have ever slipped my feet into – even more uncomfortable then the platform shoes that I used to traipse around in when I was a kid.  But I love them. 

Creative genius!
I love them because they make me realize how fortunate I am.  Not just in the shoe department, but in life in general.  They also speak to the ingenuity and creativity of people who see a need and seek to fill it.  They are inspiration incarnate. 

I cannot imagine having no choice but to wear flip flops made from old tires.  They aren’t pretty.  They aren’t comfortable.  But man, are they practical.  And they would never wear out!  To think that something as commonplace as a pair of shoes is a luxury in many parts of the world is humbling.    

Flip flops are the most common type of footwear in the world.  Also known as thongs, jandals or zori (as well as a host of other names), these shoes are responsible for hundreds of thousands of injuries every year, ankle sprains and breaks are the most common of these injuries and they most commonly occur when the wearer steps off a curb or trips when the loose shoe catches on something in his/her path.  Stubbed toes, broken toes, and toe-nail injuries are also familiar territory for the flip flopped foot.  A broken strap can be catastrophic.  Constant wear can lead to flat feet and tendinitis.  Yet, while they are not safe, they have never diminished in popularity in all the six thousand years that they have been in use throughout the world. 

The most uncomfortable shoes in the world!
The oldest pair of flip flops ever found (to date) came from Egypt and date back 4000 years.  Another pair, found in Europe, is 1500 years old and made from papyrus leaves.  Modern flip flops are made from plastic, rubber, canvas, leather, wood, foam or fabric.  They can be quite plain and quite cheap, or they can be very ornate and very expensive. 

The pair I now have from Kenya – complete with Kenyan mud in the treads! – will not likely serve as actual footwear for me.  They are too big for one thing, and they really are very uncomfortable!  They will however be kept in pride of place somewhere where I can see them and be reminded of my good fortune; somewhere where I can look at them and be inspired by the innovative solution they are to so many people’s misfortune.  They will symbolize creativity!

I don’t have to walk a mile in them to understand how truly blessed I am.  

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