‘The time has come, ‘the walrus said, ‘to talk of many things: of shoes and ships-and sealing wax-of cabbages and kings.’ Lewis Carroll
Shoes are ironic. Oh I know no one actually would say that or perhaps even think as I do about the true meaning of shoes, but women understand shoes are not simply pieces of leather sewn together, but a religious experience. Women worship at the Temple of Manolo. And I must agree with Marilyn Monroe when she famously said, “Give a girl the right pair of shoes and she can conquer the world.” From Louboutin to Nine West, women can work a heel.
But I should get back to the ironic part. When I was young I adored shoes and wore Capezios all the time. Every new pair and new color that was produced found its way into my closet.
My father used to ask, “What do you need more shoes for?”
Poor guy never got it. Dad, women don’t need shoes, we crave them like chocolate when we’re PMSing. Helps fill in the other 20 days a month and keep us on an even keel.
So the irony here, despite my father’s constant puzzlement about my addiction, is that when you’re older and have the money to finally give in to your habit. When your children are all out of the house, when you have enough money too keep your grandchildren in Lego sets, when it’s all about you and your shoeboxes, and you don’t need those running shoes anymore, the unthinkable happens.
Your damn feet start aching.
“Why do they hurt,” you ask.
Usually from wearing all those fabulous heels when you were younger and now you have hammertoes and planters fasciitis or heel spurs, flatfeet, corns, bunyans and all kinds of evil gremlins that keep you from sliding your foot into the gorgeous Manolo with the four- inch heel.
Of course you panic. Why wouldn’t you? Your closet is filled to the brim with fabulous footwear. Magnificent specimens of foot coverings that make your friends drool and your feet ache undamnbelieveably.
So it’s off to the podiatrist we go.
“Doc my arch is killing me and I can’t seem to stand in these heels anymore.”
He examines the shoe you hold up for him to see and a smirk crosses his face.
Aha he thinks, the moment of bliss for him is the moment of sorrow for you. You are at odds. For now your feet belong to him and not to those fabulous Jimmy Choos you are trying to avoid wetting with your tears.
Okay, so aren’t there worse things in life than simply not being able to wear high heels anymore?
Well of course there are, but that’s the point. Shoes are a metaphor for life. In a nutshell they are the perfect example for where it all leads, the meaning of life, the ultimate screw you from the universe.
Just when you think you have it all, the universe steps in and laughs. “Kidding” it says and takes it all away.
Oh I’m not talking about the Monolos I’m talking about life.
I use shoes because it is easy for my female readers to relate to the joy of slipping into a pair of four-inch heels and admiring the turn of a calf. Or the way you feel glamorous and fabulous and ready to face the world armed and dangerous in those open-toed spikes.
For men I must use a different metaphor. It’s when you retire and can play golf all day and you tear your rotator cuff.
But life can be a cruel master as we’ve all seen far too many times.
The ability to rationalize is the most important and underappreciated human talent.
I myself am a gold medal winner in the sport and I know many of my friends compete with me on a daily basis.
Why is rationalization the key to a happy life?
So often we hear the phrase we must live our lives in gratitude. We must count our blessings and accept happily what we have been given.
And I’m not saying that’s bad advice.
Heavens no. It’s important to exist in a state of gratitude. But can we truly achieve that end without the use of copious amounts of rationalization?
Oh well you wore stunning shoes all those years and all good things must end. At least they make so many adorable flats now. It doesn’t matter be grateful you had so many years with Jimmy Choo. What about girls who started with flat feet and could you show some gratitude here?
And we must. Because that is how we cover the disappointments we face, the losses we must accept and the pain of mistreatment by others.
My favorite is; it’s not your fault, people like that don’t know better, they’re pitiful, at least you’re not like them so pray they eventually realize what awful people they are. (But of course they never do.)
Okay, sure, you’re right, they are awful and I should feel sorry for them, but when you’re someone’s victim isn’t it okay to feel bad for yourself?
I understand we need to rationalize. It’s the best way to get through it all.
My brother died recently. He had just sold his business, bought a home on a golf course and was finally at last able to succumb to his addiction for hitting that little ball across a fairway and have lots of time to play with his grandchildren.
But life had other plans. Life said screw you, I don’t think so.
And so we were forced to rationalize once more. At least he had so many years; he lived so well, yata yata yata.
It’s what we do to survive, to try and make sense of it all. The irony that life uses as its own little private parlor game.
Oh so you think you’ll retire and enjoy life, guess again.
Oh so you think you’ll be dancing in those shoes after you hike up Machu Pichu, au contraire, but check out these new old lady shoes, hot huh?
So you think that after struggling for years to achieve your goals and make it in business you got this covered.
Guess again, your new factory just burned to the ground before the insurance kicked in. Too bad but at least you weren’t inside the building right?
The sore toes are a foreshadowing of what life truly is. It’s an ironic series of disappointments, missteps and tragic moments we are forced to justify by rationalizing using the words at least.
Someone once said the most powerful word in the English dictionary is “if”.
I would like to propose the two most powerful and important words are at least. For all rationalizations begin with those two little words.
At least we have humor to help get us through bad times, at least we have wonderful memories, at least he didn’t suffer, at least we can stay away from people who hurt us and at least we’re not them and the list is endless.
But so far no one has been able to use the words at least to stop the pain of losing those we love.
I guess we’ll have to do our best to keep going and rationalizing our way through life.
I’d love to continue this conversation but these new shoes are killing me and I have to go put on my slippers. At least they are comfortable.
May life be good for you and may you have few occasions to use the words at least.