The Meaning of Old Shoes


Material possessions often become a metaphor for our personal metaphysics.  They reveal intimate truths in tactile form.  Our personalities.  Our ambitions.  Our noblest values.  Our lowest vices.  They are loyal companions in our wide-eyed pursuit of the future.  They are at times fond reminders of our favorite moments in our story so far.  At other times they represent demons from our darkest days that we simply cannot let go, often for no perceptible reason. 

Maybe this is why we have a hard time saying goodbye to these temporal things and why we genuinely grieve when they are lost forever.

I met a nice young lady named Scotty in a small coffee shop in Denver.  Her brother had recently totaled her car.  Her head bowed and shoulders lowered as she pulled out her cell and invited me to look at her lost loved one, almost like an open casket funeral.  I don't think her heart was heavy because metal was twisted and glass was broken--it had deeper meaning.  I never got a chance to ask her about its sacredness.  I wish I had.


introducing, my shoes

I have an old pair of New Balance sneakers.  I guess more accurately they are running shoes, although I have never used them expressly for that purpose.  I think they are four, maybe five years old.  Outside of a couple of business casual work shoes, these are what I wear the vast majority of the time.  I got a new pair a couple of years ago, but for some reason I rarely put them on.

My shoes, including this pair, say some things about who I am and my life.  Most practically, they say that I've never made enough money to routinely get new ones when they begin to evidence the slightest bit of wear.  Related to that, they also say that I don't seem to value impressing people with a clean and modern appearance.  I've never been gripped by shame and embarrassment for donning my frayed and scuffed foot-hugging friends.


But the number one thing I associate with these shoes is the death of my mom.  It will be three years in less than a few weeks.  These are the shoes I wore every day when it became clear that she would not be able to beat cancer a sixth time and that her time with all of us was coming to an end.  They were now the shoes of a care provider, except that in my case the one I was serving in preperation for death was the one who literally gave me life.

She had horrible bowel complications.  One time the tip of one of my shoes was splashed with unspeakable fluids.  I think I tried to clean it off.  Even then I would occasionally smell the odor.  It took several weeks to fade away, maybe longer.  Perhaps I blocked it out.


Material possessions often become a metaphor for our personal metaphysics.  They reveal intimate truths in tactile form. 

These shoes haunt me.  I'll probably wear them tomorow.