Sunday, May 07, 2006

Sunday Scribblings- My Shoes


My shoes~current faves Rocket Dog canvas mary janes with cherries and rhinestone skull.

I am not a great collector of shoes these days. I know they can be beautiful works of art and that they can “make an outfit”. In days gone by I was much more conscious of my shoes. I wouldn’t wear an outfit if I didn’t have the right shoe to complete it, and would willlingly aquire blisters for beauty. Don’t get me wrong, I am still all girl and recognize the beauty of a Jimmy Choo or a Manolo but for many years now my focus has shifted elsewhere.

I went to the tropics for a marine biology course when I was in college. It was my first experience with poverty. I remember the children from the near by village running around with no shoes. I remember looking at the thick skin on their feet, built up to protect them as they ran through the mangrove forests, the hot city streets and mountain trails. Some were lucky and had shoes. They would wear the same pair for years and cutting the toes off when their feet out grew them to wear them like an open toed sandal. I would look at these children and think of my over stuffed suitcases.

I had packed for every eventuality. I had dresses with matching shoes for clubs, trainers for hikes, flip-flops for the beach and many other assorted outfits designed for various activities. It suddenly seemed strange to place so much importance whether or not I looked perfect, on if I had the right shoe.

Growing up in an upper middle class suburb of Northern California, poverty was not something I had any direct experience with. I grew up in a land of nice family homes with kids who had new school clothes every year. I knew it was out there, it just didn’t really have a root in my awareness.

Like most girls, my closet plays host to several different types of shoes. My dress shoes, my versatile tall boots, my trusty Uggs (that are now 11 years old!), my converse that I wear almost daily and my trusty running shoes that I hope will keep me from any more stress fractures. Since that first trip, my shoes have taken me on many travels. Trips to Central and South America, Europe and soon they will come with me to live in Africa. I am grateful that I have had the luxury of so many pairs of shoes. Shoe choices. Life choices.

In thinking about this Sunday Scribbling topic and all the many ways I could go with it…I kept coming back to that first life-altering trip. To the memory of those kids and their sweet spirits and bare feet. To the knowledge that meeting them had altered me in a very meaningful and profound way. I left all of my shoes save one pair to get me home with the children of the village. I also left them all my paper, colored pencils and my gratitude for teaching me so much.

I think I took away more than I left behind.

12 Comments:

Blogger Sunday Scribblings said...

wow, what a wonderful lesson. I smiled hugely when I pictured your shoes from the picture on the feet of some of those village children - he he he. So many people in the world would be shocked by what we HAVE, wouldn't they? I can't wait to hear your stories from Africa - what an experience you will have!!

2:11 PM  
Blogger Jennifer said...

You spoke straight to my heart. Thanks for sharing today.

2:32 PM  
Blogger boliyou said...

what a lovely story. Thanks for sharing.

2:38 PM  
Blogger paris parfait said...

So lovely, particularly the contrast with the poverty elsewhere and how lucky we are to have all the shoes we need/want. Thanks for sharing your story. When I lived in the Middle East, I did the same thing - not shoes, but left behind clothes, bedding, books, etc. to kids in Palestinian refugee camps. These children are so inspiring: how they get by with very little, yet speak two or three languages and are determined to move beyond their present circumstances. Best of luck to you in Africa!

3:09 PM  
Anonymous JavaCurls said...

Cute Mary Jane shoes!

Loved reading your story and how it had such a powerful impact on your life. Thanks for sharing!

4:20 PM  
Blogger la vie en rose said...

beautiful, beautiful, beautiful...thank you for the reminder...

7:31 PM  
Blogger Bohemian Girl said...

i hadn't heard this story yet and was very touched by it. it brought me back to my time in Romania taking care of orphans and the similar feelings i had in regards to their limited clothing and my overstuffed suitcase.

life altering...yes.

this was beautifully written, Leth.

and i have to say...the shoes in your picture are just awesome.

xoxoxo,
den

10:00 PM  
Blogger liz elayne said...

this story pulls at my heart. the girl seeing the world with her eyes wide open...learning what really is important. beautiful. the way you have written it here is wonderful.

and i love, love your shoes in this picture. cherries. can't wait until cherries are in season at the market. love cherries...on shoes...on purses...at the market...they just make me smile.

11:44 PM  
Blogger M said...

This is a lovely story. What a gift to bring back from your travels. It's always amazing when you see what life is like in a different place, what we take for granted. And I love the shoes in the pic by the way- I'm so a Mary Jane girl!

9:38 AM  
Blogger gkgirl said...

this really makes
you stop and
think...

thank you for that opportunity.

:)

10:30 AM  
Blogger AscenderRisesAbove said...

those are the cutest shoes i have seen in a very long time!

11:31 AM  
Blogger Sarah e.Smith said...

I love rocket dog shoes...i just bought a pair i loved but they didnt fit well so i had to take them back :(

5:18 PM  

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