Letting go is hard. Yet it is one of the most important things and I continue to work at it. Letting go of memories, past grudges, embarrassing moments, mistakes, and words misspoken whether in love, anger, fear, or ignorance. Letting go of both the good and the bad in life. It’s about keeping the hands of our spirits free so we can evolve, as we will. But letting go of my Skechers? This has proven to be particularly difficult.
Instead of letting them completely go, I shall instead find a place for them in “The Closet”. A safe place where they can continue to exist. A place where I can gaze upon them and smile in remembrance of the moments we shared. Losing our way in outdoor markets around the world. Urban hiking in Paris, Rome, and Kampala. Navigating in and over snowdrifts in Palmer, boldly facing the winds in Mountain View and walking the dogs in Lone Pine.
Their dependability and ease so welcome in my often chaotic life. Ready to go at a moment’s notice. Lightweight, subtle and content to blend into whatever scene they found themselves. Grocery shopping, running errands, dancing, late-night drinks or trekking for gorillas in the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park.
It is this memory I hold most dear. I can’t look at these shoes without immediately being transported back in time. Walking for hours in a rainforest searching for the elusive Silverback Gorilla. Then suddenly, and unexpectedly, judging from the guides’ reactions, finding them in a protected grove. Crouching in the wet mud and tall grass, observing the troupe of gorillas en vivo with the nagging thought, “I hope the mud stains wash off my Skechers “.
Then walking even more hours back to base camp in a daze of wonderment and pain. Wonderment for what I had witnessed and all within a few arm’s length of proximity. In pain because I was wearing footwear with the support and tread equivalent to a pair of house slippers.
Walking back, I was the weak link in the group. A difficult place to be in life and one we should all experience, at least a few times. It is the path to humility. It is how one learns what it means to be dependent on people you may not know when that is the very last thing you want to be. I had long since let go of caring what others in the group might think of me because frankly, there was nothing I could do about it. The guide and I brought up the far rear. Counting in Swahili to take my mind off the pain. My calf muscles and arches screaming every time I plucked them out of the mud. My heel escaping the confines of the Skecher, to take yet another step into yet more mud. My knees crying out because it was downhill all the way. I knew then, with each scream and every cry, that it would be days before I would walk without limping. I also knew then that I would not change a single thing about the experience. Not even my shoes.
There was something spiritual about slogging through the rainforest. It was an interactive and fully engaging experience. The first half of the day was spent stepping under, over but mostly through the thousands shades of green. Then, after a few life-changing moments watching the mighty gorillas, we began the long march home. The day would be all about taking the next step. Picking ‘em up and putting ‘em down. One step. Then the next. And then the next. It was about stopping frequently to remind myself of where I was. Every single moment of that day about finding the beauty just there, where I was standing. It was about pursuing a goal. Achieving that goal. And returning home to luxuriate in that sense of accomplishment. Just as we are meant to do in life.
Today I look at my Skechers knowing they have served me well and knowing it is time to let them go. And I am working on it. The first step was inviting a new pair of Skechers into my life. I opted for a different style because I didn’t want the temptation of replacing what was. In this life, I wish to remain open to a continued evolution. For this is another truth in life. No one and nothing is replaceable. And all ones and all things are special in their own right and if you let them, will take you deeper into your own evolution.