‘Going barefoot’ is a good metaphor for a Taoist approach to life. We Abbott boys, young and old, go barefoot all the time. One of the first lessons my sons ‘taught’ me, when I was old enough to learn, was that I didn’t need to wear shoes in Santa Cruz. They never have worn shoes on a daily basis. I never bought them any shoes because they never asked, and we never have snow on the ground. We home schooled the kids so we didn’t get a flack from the ‘establishment’.
[As you can see, there are three pairs of feet here, Pa's, Luke's and Kyle's. Guess who's feet belongs to who! Go on, take a guess]
It is a modern irony that we can afford not to wear shoes. As Henry Thoreau so wisely said, “A man is rich in proportion to the number of things he can afford to let alone”. Shoes, like gloves, are one of the many things we “can afford to let alone” unless needed. Indeed, shoes are gloves for the feet, which is great when you need gloves! Otherwise, having skin connected to the earth beneath my feet feels so much better than ‘feetgloves’.
Of course, going barefoot may have turned into kind of a tradition for the boys, probably reenforced by various people pushing us to “get some shoes”. What better way for boys to rebel, eh? Although, we do break ‘tradition’ and put on shoes when we go to a restaurant. The restaurant people insist… all that broken glass around you know. Oddly enough, the people at the lumber store never say anything, although there are more hazards there (splinters, nails, etc.).
Personally though, going barefoot isn’t a tradition. I’m probably too old to be imprinted with a new tradition (and I spent my youth dumping the few with which I was imprinted). Rather, I just truly feel more ‘grounded’ (literally and figuratively). Also, going barefoot affords me a small way of embracing some discomfort when the whether gets cool (cool + arthritis = @#$%). So, why volunteer for discomfort? I’ve noticed a trade off in life which goes like this: Short term pleasure leads to long term pain; short term pain returns to long term pleasure.
Keeping life as simple as possible any way I can helps me avoid [chref=9]filling it to the brim[/chref]. Emotional stability and contentment come more easily when I know when to stop. Thus, ‘going barefoot’ for me is an approach to life rather than just not wearing shoes. In civilized circumstances, any way I can find to ‘go barefoot’ helps. Less is more as they say!