Saturday, October 09, 2010

Missing My Feet

No, my feet haven't gone missing. I've had no accident or extreme surgery. The title just kind of came to me like that.

As I was walking the other day, in my Nike Run Free Plus shoes, the ones that can catch a twig and hold onto it as seen in the previous post, I realized that I really miss walking and running barefoot.

About a year ago I wrote some about this, about the knee injuries and giving up running when it seemed I couldn't run without re-injuring. Then about the friend who recommended running barefoot, and how I tried it.

I tried it and liked it! Not only could I run without hurting my knee (without my knee even all!), but I just relished the sensation of being barefoot outside. The softness of moss, the coolness of grass, the squishiness of mud, the cushion of dust, the splashing of puddles. Even the roughness of bark when I walked along a fallen tree trunk.

I had to stop when the weather got too cold. I tried several times to purchase a pair of Vibram FiveFinger shoes (and always thought I'd blog about them once I got them), but they kept selling out before I could get any.

So I settled for the Nikes and continued running once I got them.

And in the meantime we moved to this new house. And that's part of why I miss going barefoot.

At our old house, I could drive to one of the biggest parks in the city in just a couple of minutes. That's where I'd go, either to the public area or sometimes to the Botanic Garden--and usually in the mornings, no one was around. Or just one or two people, and once we had the conversation about why I was barefoot, they didn't think it odd, so it was fine. One woman, in fact, told me she was friends with a major Memphis runner and that he had begun running barefoot not long before.

From our new house, it takes me ten minutes to get to that park. And because of starting the new job, my morning time is more limited than before, so I just haven't been going there.

There's a wonderful park, pictured above, closer to our new house. It's really beautiful--smaller than the other, but with a lake and an island bird sanctuary. It's lovely. But it's also in the middle of a very nice neighborhood, and people do walk their dogs there each morning, or just walk themselves around the lake. It isn't really crowded, but it isn't as uncrowded as the first park. And I just get the feeling that the people there would look at me funny if I were barefoot.

Besides that, it doesn't have the large stretches of grass that the other one has. Going barefoot on dried magnolia leaves is not as pleasant as being on grass. And because of all the dog-walking at the new park, I end up having to be on the sidewalk a good deal. Which is not painful, despite what you might expect; but neither is it especially pleasant.

So, I'm thinking I'll have to give up either a bit of sleep, or a bit of workout time if I want the true barefoot experience again. I think it's worth the sacrifice, though it's hard to think that when I'm just waking up and it's still darkish.

Now that I'm thinking about this, I'm thinking that yet a third park may be quicker to get to than my old park. It has a golf area that I don't think anyone uses for golf early in the morning, because that woman I met in the park actually put me in touch with her barefoot running friend, and he told me that's where he runs. Hmmmmm. I'll just have to check it out.

Anyway, if you haven't gone barefoot outside for a while, I highly encourage it, before it gets too cold. I have this theory that the soles of our feet are connected pretty directly to our s-o-u-l souls, somehow. Because the barefoot time I had last fall just seemed to do something deep inside that can't be explained simply by nerve endings. It has to do with being connected to the earth, and to childhood, and to life, in a way that shoes just get in the way of.

Do it for your soles. Do it for your soul.


Brent said...

Tonight we watched on DVD the PBS series by Bruce Feiler called "Walking the Bible," and someone asked why God told Moses to take off his shoes when he approached the burning bush. Maybe your last paragraph offers a hint.

Brent said...

Sheila, I meant next-to-last paragraph. You can edit my post if you want (if it will let you). Thanks for the nice post.

CarolinaGirl said...

I miss the ability to go barefoot that my house in TN seemed to bring so easily. The grass in the backyard felt so comfortable between my toes and I would go out into it barefoot after a long day at work.

Your mentioning Chickasaw State Park makes me think of Henderson oh so many years ago.

Sheila said...

Well, it isn't Chickasaw State Park near us, just plain Chickasaw Park.

Sheila said...

Brent, I wonder if it also has to do with vulnerability. Shoes are a way to make ourselves less vulnerable, more tough, more able to go where we want to go. Not much point trying to approach the Holy that way....

(Sorry, I don't see a way to edit people's comments.)

And thanks to you for being the one who introduced me to the joys of being barefoot again.

Joy said...

I can relate after all. I used to run barefoot before while I was still living in Singapore and then we when we migrated to Canada 2 months ago, I was no longer able to run barefoot because the road isn't that smooth--it's like an old concrete covered with asphalt or something like that. And we live far from the city,too. As an alternative to barefoot running, I also bought a pair of Nike Free and it feels great. I'm actually thinking of buying another pair of shoes so that I can change from time to time and that each shoes won't get destroyed easily. I'm somewhat confused as to which shoes I'm going to buy, Vivo or Newton? Hmmm.....

Lucy said...

'nor can foot feel, being shod...'

I used to love going barefoot as a kid, and prided myself on hardening my feet up over the summer walking on the gravel around our house. Now I have to say I'd be nervous of sharp objects now, especially running. A pity they can't set aside special places in parks for it.

Many religions and cultures seem to have something about the sacredness of baring one's feet, don't they? And monks wearing sandals is part of the same idea too, I think.

I shall make more effort to go barefoot when I can, I think!

Sheila said...

If you do that, Lucy, then my blogging has not been in vain!

Brent said...

You're welcome! Glad to see that someone (Lucy) brought Hopkins into the conversation!

Sheila said...

Yes. He is always here in spirit via the name of the blog, but it's good to reminded from time to time. :-)