As a forever barefoot lifestyle aficionado, I’ve encountered a number of benefits…and obstacles. The most difficult, by far, is having a spouse who is NOT a barefoot person. Here is a sampling of the kinds of exchanges occurring in our home:
“Oh, honey, please take off the work boots at the door. You know I worry about the pesticides you guys use at the zoo.” (Hopeful smile.)
Boots not removed, stomp, stomp to couch. No resistance when I remove them.
“Now that we’ve gotten this cool new woven grasses rug, could we go barefoot.”
“Could you take off your shoes then?”
“I’m going back out in the yard in a minute.”
(An hour passes.)
“If you aren’t going out, could I take your shoes off for you now?”
“Ok, I’m going out now.”
Random walking around on the new rug, then back to couch.
“Tonight at the party, I plan to be barefoot and hope the guests will take my cue.”
“My feet are cold.”
“Would socks be enough?”
“How about slippers?”
He wears socks and slippers with an outdoor sole. Everyone but me stays in shoes.
“Jack and Jane are coming over tonight. Remember, they have a no-shoe policy at their house? I’m hoping you’ll join us.”
“My ugly old feet have bunions and scars.”
“Your feet are nice. I’m the one with the hammertoe.”
“Your feet are much nicer than mine.”
“…and Jack has long toenails.”
“Jack has nicer feet than mine.”
“So, what do you think? Think you might take a chance and show a little foot?”
“Ummmmm…. Aaaa…. Mmmmm…. Oh all right.”
“If you let me take your shoes and socks off, I’ll give you a foot rub.”
Feet extended immediately.
These are relatively new exchanges. Things weren’t always this way. When we were first married in 1987, we both had been adhering to the Japanese tradition of no shoes in the house in our separate apartments. At that time, my husband was a martial artist and had run a dojo recently, so he was completely on board. He was slender and agile, closed doors by gracefully lifting his barefoot to the top of the door and giving it a gentle shove. Yes, my sole mate.
About fifteen years ago, a dream job working with plants at the zoo meant changes for us. His work environment is ideal—amazing plants and animals, co-workers who also adore nature. However, the work is frequently grueling—moving immense rocks and full grown trees, pruning on a 60-foot lift, slipping and sliding in mud to clear a hillside.
With these changes have come injuries and accelerated bodily wear and tear. Still elegantly lofty (6’4”), my hubby is now a weightlifter—highly muscled and sturdy, rather than lithe and light on his feet. Aside from that, his job requires wearing heavy gear and a daily saturation in gazillion allergens and even some chemicals.
All of that causes problems, but it’s far too sweet a job to relinquish.
It’s up to me to find ways to keep what I love: the barefoot lifestyle.
Now it’s your turn. Are you interested in an exchange about ways to create and preserve a barefoot lifestyle? There is much to discuss about this seemingly simple way of life, and I’d love to facilitate the conversation. Please weigh in.
~ Ariele M. Huff