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2011 July 11 — The Meaningful Traveler

Monday, July 11, 2011

An ode to old shoes

by Steve Brock on July 11, 2011

Last time we looked at how being away from your ordinary life on a trip helps you better appreciate how extra-ordinary that so-called ordinary life actually is.

In the same vein of paying attention and being thankful for the familiar, let me focus today on something I rarely notice: my feet.

More precisely, my shoes.

I have this pair of summer walking shoes. If you look just at the upper parts, they appear much newer than they are. They go on in a flash, envelope each foot like nostalgia, cushion the toughest trails and cling to rocks like a “Yes Man” to every utterance of his boss.

These shoes, however, just about didn’t make it back this last trip. Alas, the elastic ties that make them so convenient are their undoing. Once the elastic frays and the fabric eyelets tear, you can only band-aid these puppies so much. I know. Just take a look at the picture (which unfortunately doesn’t reveal the sad state of the worn soles and heals).

They are only a few years old yet have more miles on them than a truck stop waitress. They have gone with me from the red rocks of Bryce Canyon to the red sand beaches of Prince Edward Island. But mostly, they have trod the familiar streets and sidewalks of my neighborhood and trekked the mountains and valleys that surround my home.

Shoes are stuff. They are a physical possession that we use. They won’t go with us to heaven. This pair won’t likely even make it to September.

Yet even as a thing, they have value. They have particular value today because I noticed them. I gave thanks for them. I appreciated the small things, the way God provides for our soles, as well as our souls.

You often hear people disclaim, “Oh, if only these walls could talk!” Agreed. But I think this old pair of walking shoes might have even more interesting tales to tell could they both walk and talk. These shoes could remind me of all I’ve seen. All the places I’ve visited. All the intimate conversations along a quiet trail or the boisterous laughter on a busy city sidewalk. All the life I’ve experienced in them.

They are just a pair of shoes. Inanimate. Ordinary.

Just a pair of shoes.

Goodbye old friends.

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