Are you walking in shoes too small? Do your memories include those days when shoes were too small, clothes were too tight or the trend and rage just didn’t take you into account? Life lessons come through our life stories. These stories often disappear from memory when we do not allow time of remembrance. These stories lose importance due to their ordinary, routine and habit status. These stories build on each other without much notice or intentionality of how they shape our lives.
I have shoe stories. As a child, I didn’t wear my dress shoes very often. They were appropriate and compulsory for special occasions and specific events. This meant that though I grew, my shoes didn’t. No one in my family paid much attention to this mismatch until an occasion arose or else just minutes before we needed to leave the house. I had to jam my foot into the shoes, smash my toes and walk normal. Being pretty came with a distorted facial expression, and a wish to find a seat where fidgeting allowed for release of the pressure on my feet. This allowed some comfort for the moment. There were countless times when my maneuvers were interpreted as fiddling around. What I wanted was relief, but instead received a different type of pain. As an adult, I had high heels with pointy toes for dress-up and attempting to work in them while pretending my feet didn’t hurt. Pretty grew to mean pain was normal.
I remember the year of box-like shoes. To date I can still see them: solid brown, leather rectangular with a bronze buckle across the top. Mom checked and double-checked my approval of this purchase. “Are you sure?” then stated a list of metaphors that I now know were made to change my desire. I held tight to my desire. Her words stuck. Pretty once again took on a slightly different meaning. Pretty meant unattractive.
I have clothes stories. I learned the acceptable for “every occasion” outfits. Colors beginning with black and continuing into the natural colors that did nothing to make me anything special or showed me to be out of the ordinary. I learned to stay away from the daring brights and to tone down, even outlaw, any considerations of style. I found what worked was paying attention to only the expected parameters while ignoring what I liked. Pretty has pre-set boundaries.
I remember times in my adulthood when I had the opportunity and privilege to pick and choose my shoes and my clothes. I could get what I wanted and could seek to find it. I had the where-with-all without having the eyes for coordination of outfits. I could make the time, money and energy without the audacity to follow-through. When I buy shoes, I buy too many. When I buy clothes, I buy the same style in different colors. Pretty, still again, became too risky to attempt.
Decades later, as fads and trends have patterned in rapid cycle, many a short-lived craze returns to what worked. I realize that I no longer need to battle the fitness of shoes, the vogue of trends and the color schemes of the season. I’d do better to glance at the pretty sights; smell what enlivens my world and feel the essence of delight. I’d also do well to take notice of what matters and embrace with awe that which touches within… promoting a change in the perception that “too good to be true” can be real, good and true. Pretty is real. Pretty is good. Pretty is true. Pretty is a perception that has an opportunity established within it to shift.
“Forever is composed of nows.” Emily Dickinson
“Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?” Matthew 6:27