How Did That Whole Shoe Thing Get Started?
BY DAVID S. LEWIS
You started out as a child. No doubt. We all did. And correct me if I’m wrong, but even before that, as a baby, that little bundle of humanity that you were didn’t come into this world with shoes—no soles, no laces, no Dr. Scholls inserts. You were barefoot. So how did we all get from there to here? And where along the line in the scheme of things did people (primates, whatever) start wearing shoes—and why, when, with this primitive hominid ancestry we hear about, their feet would already have been tough and rugged? —Why would animals need shoes, unless it was a fashion statement, a sense of style, moccasins being the prehistoric equivalent of Gucci loafers? Not likely.
I don’t have the answer to this question, and neither does anybody else, no matter what they say. And evolutionary biologists will jump up and down and send hate mail for even having suggested that they are less than omniscient (when, like most dogmatists, they claim to have all the answers while fumbling in the dark).
Nevertheless, we come into this world barefoot, and we walk around wearing shoes, sometimes big bulky boots, Bass Weejuns, or high heels, when barefootedness remains our natural state—I know it’s mine, and I have a hankering to return to it, despite what people might think or how it might feel (and if you recall Paul McCartney did just fine walking across Abbey Road).
Now, you may ask why I’m not conveying timely and topical insight (partly because I’m not actually writing, but dictating into a phone, hence the stream of consciousness thing), something about Hillary, the Donald, Bernie, or Livingston’s own Ed Meece. Well fine, if I must, but the truth is, this is a topical subject (tropical too), if you consider Hillary, the Donald, Bernie or Ed Meece barefoot, with no shoes, better yet no pants (in Hillary’s case no pantsuit—and there’s considerable doubt as to whether even Bill sees her that way), exactly the way they were born into this world, because I think that’s a state we all need to reckon with and get in touch with, the bare essentials. And that’s not only relevant to presidential politics, but, well, essential.
These people, after all, are the same as you and me. They put their shoes on, and their pants, the same way we do, although I can’t speak for the pantsuit (that’s more of an LGBT thing, not to be confused with the MGB GT) and we’re not quite suited to that type of investigative journalism anyway.
But if you look at it a bit more deeply, recognizing the fact that we were all born barefoot, and naked, it’s a good rationale for getting back to basics, to intrinsics, and that happens to be exactly what I did only recently.
Yes, I went barefoot for ten days (excluding airports). Like Jerry Jeff Walker, I like to sleep late in the morning, don’t like to wear no shoes. And going barefoot, building a few callouses, one begins to discern the unadorned nature of oneself, some-thing of the natural order. You feel the sand between your toes, and the little pebbles and stones that hurt pretty badly, until you toughen up, and then the rough and hot pavement as you tip toe, not necessarily through tulips, but tentatively to your beachside Nipa hut, or where ever you happen to be walking. It’s just that my recent escapade was seaside, beachfront, and of course barefoot.
And a funny thing happens when you get good at walking barefoot (the next step of course would be to walk bare naked, but that would be a level of naturalness to which this particular journalist, observer, and participant in the glory of life is not necessarily willing to aspire, not without ample sunblock). You get a whole new sense of yourself. Walking barefoot, you sense the natural man or child within (identifying as the latter gets you free admission to local events) in contrast to the artifice and contrivance of the world. And in the naturalness of the moment, in contrast, you can see Hillary, the Donald, Bernie, and Ed Meece more clearly (when shod): Ed Meece walks off with $58,000 of our property taxes; Donald Trump shows off his diamond cuff links and VO 5 hairdo; Hillary Clinton lugs a rigged polygraph machine color coordinated with her private server; and a bereted Bernie Sanders waves a red commie flag autographed by his commie hero Daniel Ortega—they stay in touch, you know.
That night, falling asleep, dreaming the dreams a dreamer dreams (notice the stream of consciousness), I then experience the five of us running barefoot down the beach, the wind in our hair—Donald’s is a mess at this point, Hillary has lost her pantsuit and is down to her skivvies, and Bernie has reality checked his commie flag at the door of real life economics, but he’ still wearing that beret.
Ed Meece, by the way, can be found body surfing with Dale Carnegie, learning how to win friends and influence people, a new career path.
Mind you, this isn’t political commentary, or even satire, just a journalistic report on subconscious events. And, as for me, well, I’ve still got my eye on the prize, that barefoot existence, complete with cheeks of tan. I don’t know whose idea it was in the first place to wear shoes, but I’m not happy about it, because it takes quite a bit of effort getting back to one’s edenic state after all the artifice and contrivance of modern life (ask my beach pals, Bernie, et al).
One is reminded though, of the fable, in which a man sets his eye on the kind of life he would like to lead, and he determines it to be one of freedom and peace, and the ability to have that freedom and peace in a most desirable locale that would be seriously beneficial to his well being and state of mind—his happiness. So he works very, very hard the whole of his life trying to get there, and finally, finally, he has made it after retiring from work, or politicking, and scraping, all the machinations of his life, and he finds himself on a beautiful beach in Costa Rica, fishing, doing exactly what he wanted to do all along—total peace, relaxation and equanimity.
And there next to him on the beach stands a man, weathered, a straw hat on his head, a long fishing pole in his hands extended into the lapping blue surf, with a content little smile on his face. And this campesino, this pescador, turns and looks to the man of noble ambition, sees the lines in his face and his hair worn gray, a man who for so many years worked to find himself, and to find himself there in that place—fishing, happy, barefoot.
And the campesino, who has nothing but his fishing pole, his seaside casita, and his sweet little life, turns to the man who has everything, and says—
Welcome to my world.