I wanted to say a word about this after a recent conversation with a friend. I was explaining that I have nerve pain as a result of a herniated disc, and his immediate response was, "that's because you wear other peoples' shoes."
Interestingly, my doctor doesn't approve of this project. When she found out about it, she told me that while it's an interesting idea and has a nice sentiment, it's practically just not a healthy thing to be doing. She herself avoids second hand shoes, because shoes become so personalized as they are are worn in. She thinks that I should forget the shoes and stick to helping people wear their hearts on their sleeves and the like.
Could it be that putting oneself in another person's shoes is so risky? Dangerous, even?
I should make it clear that my back trouble began at a time when the only shoes I wore were my own, so putting other peoples shoes -- in the literal sense, at least -- isn't the root cause of the pain by any means. But I do notice how my back feels differently after a day in heels, or shoes that I have to grip with my toes to keep on my feet. The sometimes physically uncomfortable repercussions of putting myself in other peoples' shoes are the main reasons that I no longer wear others' shoes so frequently as I did at first.
I also have talked to people who speculate that things so personalized and intimate as a worn pair of shoes hold a lot of a person in them. Some folks think that it is easy to take on another's baggage and energy by wearing their shoes. I'm not convinced of this, but it's interesting to think about.
It's also interesting to think about what goes into choosing a pair of shoes for oneself, and what it means to have ones feet firmly in ones own shoes.
I've been thinking a lot lately about how different pairs of my own shoes effect my back, and my day. My biggest shoe-related challenge of late is to find a sensible pair of sandals that aren't overwhelmingly sensible. I like to wear fun things on my feet, but most fun shoes seem to be decidedly unsupportive (in the orthotic sense). I've been wearing an orange pair of sensible-disguised-as-fun shoes to work, but they have had one too many blobs of paint dropped on them. As I hold out for a fun-yet-proper pair of sandals, the summer is passing me by, and my feet are screaming to be let out of their sock encasements. I've begun to wonder if it's unreasonable to pass up so many decent but less-than-fun sandals in this ongoing quest of mine.
I don't have an answer yet.
[post barefoot dancing at Hillside feet...I'm not sure if it's clear in this photo just how extraordinarily dirty my feet were...the quest for sandals continues...]