There are two types of sailors. Ones that see the deck is wet and carpeted with sharp objects and wear the appropriate footwear. And those who slow down and get the feel of the danger by being barefoot. I was raised in a sailing tradition of the later.
If we put shoes or boots on while on-board, it took away a vital means of sensory perception. Instead of letting our feet help us “see” our way across the deck, we would blindly bump our way around.
The reason I am babbling on about this is because I spent a good part of the night (sleeping badly at the moment) thinking about the art of living one’s life barefoot. How there are whole groups of people or cultures that go through life so.
My early childhood in Venezuela and Grenada was completely barefoot. In my later childhood we were always so at home. We even tottered down the frozen driveway in deepest winter barefoot to dig the newspaper out of the snow bank without shoes. And there were the blissful summers where our feet never touched anything but stone, sand, grass, and hot pavement of the roads coming home late in the day.
Then nearly thirty years ago, I moved to Germany. A culture that doesn’t embrace bare feet. I’m sure you’ve seen the German tourists that wear sandals with socks. This just shows how clearly they don’t get the concept of going barefoot.
Ok, in the privacy of their homes, or while sitting in their gardens… yes, you can get a glimpse of folks here wiggling their toes. But that is about it.
I’m not saying this is wrong. It is just other. Not bad other or good other… just other.
Living here so long has changed me in many ways, but in no way as much as in this matter. I see American tourists walking through airports wearing flipflops, and shrink into myself. All those bared toes… in public… how inappropriate. I look at teenagers wearing bare feet in the cities during a hot summer day and think, spittle, grime, and dog poo.
Oh no, I’ve sold out! How could that happen? Could it be possible to retrieve that feeling a naked innocence of times past?
Would I have to take off my soft and warm slippers this cold rainy morning to do so?