Around 10 years ago I started a part-time job at a local outdoors store. My marriage had just ended and I needed the extra work to get the extra cash. Luckily my mom works there and I knew enough people to make it a comfortable place to be while life was in a crazy, wonderful, and terrifying transition. The store sells “those crazy toe shoes”. Being someone who loves being barefoot I really wanted to wear them, but was having the hardest time getting my feet into them. I remember sitting there swearing and sweating as I tried to get my toes in the first time. Until a co-worker came over and taught me how to easily wiggle my toes into their little toe sections. At that point my life became one of dress shoes at work and toe shoes or flip flops most of the time outside of that. In a way it was a bit of a life lesson about trying things a different way. When something isn’t working it’s pretty good to try another way before you sit there getting angry about it.
Naked feet were my thing long before I found toe shoes, but they weren’t a lifestyle. Here’s the thing, I got used to having my feet feel free and as the years passed I went from toe shoes to sandals and full on naked feet as much as possible. Shoes are restrictive and my feet are apparently claustrophobic. Since those early days of toe shoes I now hike with naked feet, run with naked feet, and garden with naked feet. Feeling the earth under my feet has helped me feel more alive and in tune with the planet. It’s also brought about friendships with other enthusiasts and even a really great job that let me spend a year and half traveling and teaching people.
Now it’s normal for me to spend a weekend with shoes on only when I go into a store. Weekends mean time in my yard. Time planting with my toes and fingers in the dirt. It’s almost as if the dirt is helping me grow along with my plants. Just as plants regenerate and drop the dead so that they can continue to grow… so is my soul. There’s a stillness inside of me that’s never been there before. Don’t get me wrong, I still have crazy wanderlust to see more of the world. It’s just that now that is balanced with a certainty that life will happen and there is no need to rush it. No need to try to stuff my toes into their spots instead of wiggle them in. Wiggling them in is much more comfy and actually takes less time than just trying to push them in. Plants grow even when we cannot see it. One day it might look like a transplanted flower will never grow and a day later there are leaves popping off of a bare branch. Everything has it’s season. Sometimes we cannot see the growth in our lives. It’s still happening.
On Sunday morning I worked on the yard and pulled weeds. My hands were covered in dirt. Deep in my brain came whispers of memories from childhood when I hated pulling weeds. Now pulling weeds is a time of meditation and renewal. A time that I can let my mind go. Just get lost in thought while sitting on the ground. The worries and frustrations of this hectic life become insignificant as I notice the new growth on plants and contemplate the beauty of the breeze, the sun, the sky.
When I get anxious about the future and what it holds or about the stifling cares of the mundane necessities of this life I am reminded that everything happens in it’s time. I am reminded to walk outside and get lost in the ground beneath my feet and the sky above my head.
The next time your world feels out of sorts try stepping out of the worry and into a place that brings you that feeling of peace. For me it is nature. For some it is a crowded coffee shop, a theme park, or a neighborhood bar. If you don’t know where your place is I encourage you to search for it and then get lost in it.