I saw the man with bare feet last week. I was not in an art gallery when I saw him. Nor was I in a museum or theatre or library. I wasn’t even in a café or a shop. I had been shopping and was on my way home, on foot, when I saw him approaching from the opposite direction. Actually, it wasn’t his face that I recognised. In fact, it wasn’t his face that caught my attention – it was his feet.
It was still January, and we had had snow a couple of days before. The snow had all but melted, but it was still a cold and crispy day. Everyone was wrapped up against the bitter elements, with winter coats, scarves, hats, gloves, and boots. Everyone, that is, except the man with bare feet. Oh, he had a coat on, and gloves and a hat but no boots. His feet were bare. What caught my attention was the fact that not only was his feet bare but they were also bright red. Well, yours would be too if you were walking about barefoot in January.
Now I don’t live in warm sunny climes. I live in the North of England. This is not California, and people don’t tend to wander the streets barefoot in the height of summer let alone in the midst of winter. And this was a busy shopping area he had chosen to walk barefoot along, with lots of other shoppers pounding the pavement with their muddy winter boots. But that wasn’t the worse thing. The worse thing was, that as it had been snowy and icy, the Council had gritted the pavement. The grit was all over the path and I could feel it sticking to the soles of my heavy boots. As I walked along, I found myself doing a strange dance which involved me trying to kick off the pesky bits of grit whilst not stopping my stride. If it was sticking to my boots and annoying me, goodness knows what it felt like on his bare feet.
I realised that whatever the reason that he decided to walk around sans shoes, he had thrown himself into it and committed himself fully. It was one thing to walk around an art gallery barefooted, but quite another to pound the pavements in January. I admired his grit and determination, and the tough no-nonsense approach he’d taken to his calling. “Snow, ice, grit, dirt; none of it is going to stop me!” he must have cried before he headed out the door. And I wished that I had a bit of that. Not to walk around barefoot you understand, just to lose myself completely in something and not be shaken off course by a spell of bad weather. To remember that spring is always just around the corner and with it the prospect of brighter skies and endless possibilities.
- A Barefooter’s Journey Outside In Traditional Shoes (wordsandstars.wordpress.com)