For my part, I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel's sake. The great affair is to move. ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON

Saturday, 11 August 2012

Mindful Walking (3)

A human foot carved in limestone in Egypt around 600 BC.

. . . Take a look at your feet: the slanting row of toes, the ball, the arch, the heel, the ankle. Why don't you admire them? Go even further — love them! Why not? They are beautiful. Think of what they do for you. They are masterpieces of design; they are miracles. Stand up on them. Sway forwards a little, then backwards, then from side to side. See how you balance. You could not do this without them. Be conscious of how your body is standing upright, erect, the centre of gravity running straight from the top of your head through your spine and pelvis and legs right down to your feet. Watch how the mind controls what the body does. Wriggle your toes. Stand on tiptoe. Rock back on your heels. Bend your legs, one after the other, flexing the Achilles tendon. Your legs and your whole body are supported and balanced by your feet. It feels good, doesn't it?

Step out of the bedroom. What freedom you have on your own two feet, what choices, what infinite possibilities! You could take them — or they could take you — across the landing to the bathroom or into another bedroom. You could move them downstairs into the kitchen or the living room or the garden. Or down the street and round the park and into the shops. Or up the hill and through the woods and by the lake and past the crossroads and along the river as far as the sea. And beyond the ocean there's Yssingeaux, Xanadu, Morocco, Samarkand . . . 

Don't try putting on your socks just yet. Why don't you go barefoot for a while? It's normal, it's natural, it's liberating. We don't walk barefoot enough. We lose touch with our feet, our beautiful feet, in thick socks which make them hot and sweaty. We encase them in ill-fitting footwear, fashionable and expensive shoes and boots, which cause them suffering and deformity. We pervert four million years of evolution by forcing our feet into unnatural contortions. Go barefoot for a while and taste the freedom. Feel how directly and naturally the heel and the ball of the foot touch the wooden floorboards, the cool tiles, the lush carpet, the dew-laden grass. Feel how the skin loves this contact, and hardens a little to protect itself, yet remains sensitive to all the textures and temperatures of the ground surface . . .

(Image from Wikimedia Commons.)

11 comments:

dritanje said...

a sychronicity - actually 2. I have a pair of sandals just the same or so it seems to me (there may be a detail or 2 of difference) as in the photo on the last post. And today I was talking to someone about feet, toes in particular, and how mine are not too bad or so I think, but my daughter's toes are long and elegant and her big toe is double jointed which mine is not. And after saying this I took off my shoes (sandals) and ran over a beach and waded in the water. I am very much in favour of bare feet.

Dominic Rivron said...

Have you tried barefoot jogging/running? I did for a while here. I may yet go back to it. Even gravel gets do-able with perseverance.

Timecheck said...

I think perhaps Sue Kenney is channeling through you. suekenney.ca/news/camino/walking-the-camino-barefoot-a-talk-by-sue-kenney

George said...

When I stand in the shower each morning, I go through this ritual of remembering how much potential remains in my own version of this wonderful machine called the human body. Remembrance leads to gratitude, and gratitude leads to action, which is a good way to start any day. As you recognize, our feet have magical qualities. They are literally the foundation on which our physical lives are built, and they are also the point at which we are connected to the earth. Great potential here, but, alas, too many people forget that these feet are made for walking, wading, running, climbing, and dancing.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Sadly Robert my feet do not fit into that category - you obviously have not seen them when you write in such glowing terms about the human foot.

Ruth said...

Wonderful ode.

I am keenly aware of feet and walking while I hold my grandson up on his feet. He is eager to begin!

The Solitary Walker said...

Dritanje: thanks for sharing this. Love your own blog.

Dominic: no, and I don't think I will be doing!

Ralph: aha, more synchronicity at work here, I think.

George: what a great comment! I like the idea that they connect us with the earth, just as our head connects us with the sky. Like a tree. And that's a marvellous way to take a morning shower.

Pat: our beautiful feet come in all shapes and sizes and ages and degrees of elegance.

Ruth: what a wonderful life-walk your grandson has before him. And he's only just about to begin. How exciting!





Heidrun Khokhar, KleinsteMotte said...

I am in awe of those long toes on that stone. These days toes appear shorter and I wonder if it's because we use our feet differently?

The Solitary Walker said...

Yes, those toes are incredibly long, aren't they? I don't know if it's real representation or artistic licence.

Goat said...

It would take a very special soul to love my battered doggies (as the Americans seem to like calling them) as much as I do today! They show great...character.

But I appreciate your passion for this much maligned and mistreated apendage. Next time I find a woman crazy enough to consider going out with me, I'm gonna lay my cards (and perhaps even my feet) on the table and say, "Baby, pretty they may not be, but love me, love my feet."

Anonymous said...

Timecheck - what does 'channeling through you' mean?!