A few days ago I entered the bedroom, kicked off my shoes, and laughed.
Not a big, robust laugh. But rather a quick, take-you-by-surprise laugh. Sort of an abbreviated chuckle. The kind that shows up unexpectedly and stops you in your tracks, reminding you that yes, this is your life.
Know what I mean?
On this particular day my moment of laughter was provoked by the sight of eight black shoes staring up at me. Four pair, to be exact. Swimming in a sea of carpet.
From that you might deduce that I like black shoes (I do; they go with everything). Or that I’m a little devil-may-care when I shed them at the end of the day (I am).
What you might not catch, though, is the map they provided me. A perfect history lesson on how I’d spent the last 12 hours of my life: walking, writing, working, and waltzing.
A pair of sturdy Reeboks. With DMX air technology. Always. My feet will accept nothing less. Because truly, is there anything better than walking on air? They’re just the ticket for my daily promenade along the river, grasping me tightly as I scramble up the side of the levee. Then at the exact moment when I reach the top, they release a bit and propel me forward as I hit my stride.
Arms swinging. Wind blowing. A stray hair caught in my mouth.
And no matter what the weather or time of day, I never tire of tracking the river’s meandering curves, or greeting the dogs (and their owners) going in the other direction.
A pair of cushy Easy Spirits. Because even though I’m sitting down when I write, I still need to be encased in slipper-like comfort. Somehow that helps me move into my rhythm. And if by chance I need to get up to do those important things that writers must do (looking in the fridge, cleaning the closets, having a boredom episode), well then, my feet will be ready.
Eventually, though, the words will flow. In fact, I can feel them when they’re forming, baby words, just like baby steps. Starting as the slightest tingle in my well-protected my toes, working their way up until they come surging out my fingertips onto the keyboard. Some make it, others don’t. Like salmon swimming upstream.
A pair of sleek Clarks mules. Not the clunky Clarks you may be familiar with. No. These are more upscale. With a slightly higher heel (but not too high; that’s not me). And a whimsical tear-drop cut out. Because now I’m in my office, in professional mode, but certainly not all buttoned up. Never.
This, instead, is a place of freedom. Where stories can be told. Fears unpacked. Uncertainties admitted. Risks calculated. Dreams created.
Yes, ultimately a place for creating. So I like it a lot that my reliable Clarks are from the artisan collection.
A pair of Rockport slip-ons. OK, if you’ve looked at the photo, you figured out these aren’t actually waltzing shoes. I know that! But I like the alliteration too much to let it go.
Nevertheless, if we want to get all technical about it, these babies are more like ballet shoes. Not the toe shoe (ouch!) variety, but the flat, Audrey Hepburn/Funny Face variety. And although I would never be mistaken for Audrey Hepburn, these shoes do an admirable job of waltzing me through the rest of my day.
And even though you might not think waltzing has anything to do with ballet, it does! Turns out that the waltz is a ballet step, as well as a dance all its own. I unearthed this gem of information during the in-depth research I always do before carefully crafting a post.
So on this day of eight black shoes, I danced both a waltz and a ballet.
I pirouetted between the computer and dryer, alternately paying bills and folding clothes. I did a grand jeté towards my kitty with the bum kidneys, bundling him up for our three-times-a-week trip to the vet. I glissaded my way to the grocery store, then later pliéd down to the kitchen floor to scoop up the stray vegetables that had jumped off the cutting board. And as the sun began to set, my husband and I met for our nightly pas de deux at the dinner table.
Finally, at the end of the day, I waltzed into the bedroom and kicked off that last pair of shoes. And laughed. But I already told you about that several hundred words ago.
WHAT IS ALL THIS TALK OF SHOES REALLY ABOUT?
Even though it seems like it, it’s not about shoes. It’s a metaphor. About meaning. And it requires stopping. And noticing.
Because with this thing called meaning making, we can’t spend every minute thinking about it. We must get about our days. And our lives.
So we need sign posts. Markers. Guides. Clues. Reminders of the meaning we’re making, even on the most routine of days.
And the good news is, those reminders are everywhere, surrounding us, in the most unlikely places.
Metaphors of meaning are waiting to be extracted from the rain drops that cling to our coats when we walk in the door. They’re hiding in the dirty dishes and the ironing. Or even buried under a pile of black shoes left on the floor.
Of course it’s easy to find them in a beautiful sunset or a fine wine. But we don’t always get that.
Which means we have to pay attention, and give ourselves over to them when they show up unexpectedly. Last week my metaphor came as a complete surprise. Who knew it would be shoes? This week it’ll be different. I don’t know what, but I’ll be looking for it. And if there’s even the slightest hint that something is a metaphor of meaning making, I’m going to jump on it.
WON’T YOU JOIN ME?
What about you? Think back to the past week. Was there a moment when you stepped out of your routine and noticed that you were living and breathing meaning? An instant when you saw how it all added up? Maybe an object or person reminded you, and you grasped your own metaphor of meaning.
Whatever it was, please share it here. I’d be so delighted to hear about it.
WHY NOT START NOW?