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the practical and elegant wisdom of shoes

April 26, 2010

On Friday afternoon I stood in the living room staring at my luggage, mentally reviewing everything I had packed for the weekend.  I was headed to Ohio with two of my sisters for our little cousin’s First Holy Communion.  I felt like I was forgetting something so I went over the list again.  Toiletries – check; pajamas – check; undergarments – check; change of clothes – check; dress – check; shoes – shoes… hmmmm…. I had packed my running shoes (and gear) just in case but that was it in the shoe department.  I looked at the shoes I had on – adorable little black peep-toe wedges – and tried to determine whether or not I need to bring another pair.  I was wearing the wedges with jeans and was pretty sure they would also look nice with my dress.  I made up my mind to only bring one pair of shoes.

I began to second guess my decision as soon as it was made.  Doubt danced around the room taunting me with fears of making the wrong choice, being without options and not having a back-up pair.  There were legitimate reasons for bringing a second pair – rain was predicted off and on throughout the weekend, and my peep-toe wedges don’t do well in rain .  Still, I was surprised and somewhat disturbed by my panicked reaction to going without options.  I couldn’t tell which was worse: my attachment to shoes or my attachment to options.

I didn’t think my attachment to bringing more than one pair of shoes was unreasonable.  It is important to have the proper attire for various weather patterns, and I wanted to be prepared.  It wasn’t a question of if it rained, but when it rained…  Packing a pair of shoes in case of rain seemed a smart way to go.

The reasons supporting my desire for options, however, seemed a bit irrational.  Suppose I decided I didn’t feel like wearing the wedges to the First Communion Mass, even if it wasn’t raining?  I hadn’t actually tried the dress on with the wedges and what if the two styles clashed but I was stuck wearing them because I didn’t have any others to choose from? It sounds ridiculous but I was seriously considering these arguments.

I wasn’t sure what to do.  Part of me wanted to stick to my original decision of packing light.  I wanted to prove that I could survive the entire weekend on only one pair of shoes.  But could I survive?  Could I make the decision to wear one pair of shoes all weekend long, no matter what situations arose and even if I got tired of them?  I wasn’t sure if I could really give up options.  Should I stand courageous in spite of my fears or give into my option-demanding weakness?  The intensity of my internal debate was exhausting and I still had a five hour drive ahead of me!

Most of all I was convicted by the realization that I had grown attached to options.  I know I’m attached to things and am always working on detachment from possessions, but I was astounded to recognize that I am also attached to the non-committal faux luxury of having options.  I have embraced society’s mindset of “keeping my options open”.  I struggle choosing one thing over another because that means I miss out on whatever I don’t choose.  But my lack of decision causes me to miss out on all of the choices.  After Friday’s escapade, I made up my mind to be decisive.  I will no longer keep my options open.  Choosing one opportunity over another may mean I miss out on the latter, but it also means I gain the former.  And I learned all of that from a pair of shoes!

In the end, I decided to pack my stylish black pumps, not because of the need for options but because of the weather issue.  I utilized every pair of shoes I brought: the wedges were a perfect all-purpose shoe; I went for a run early Saturday morning between rain showers; and I wisely wore the black pumps with my dress.  My shoes served their purpose well this weekend, with their practical and elegant wisdom.

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