We’ve all seen it a hundred times or more. Whether we’re flying down the Interstate, or cruising down some dusty country road—there it is in the median or on the side of the road: a single, solitary shoe.
There’s something stirringly sad about it. It lays there by itself, lost in loneliness. Nobody stops to pick it up. After all, who wants a single shoe? It could be any kind of shoe—in any size: a woman’s pump, a basketball shoe, a soldier’s boot, a dancer’s slipper, or a child’s sandal. Sometimes the shoe is weathered and worn—sometimes it’s brand new.
It catches our eye for just a moment as we drive by, and we wonder: Why is it always only one shoe? Why is this one laying all alone by the side of the road? Who did this shoe belong to? Where is the other shoe? What’s the story behind this shoe? And what did the other shoe see?
When you think about it, we seldom go anywhere without our shoes. Sure, we may slip them off to walk in the sand to grip the freshly mowed grass with our toes. But our shoes pretty much go everywhere that we go. You hear people say, “If these walls could talk . . .” but walls only witness what happens when you’re constrained by them. Your shoes go with you everywhere. They give you more of the story. They don’t judge. They don’t offer opinion. They’re just there—silent observers of what transpires. Maybe there’s some mystical connection between our soles and our souls.
Although you may not have noticed, shoes talk. I’m not making this up. They may not possess a vocabulary or verbalize anything, but you can tell a lot about a person by the shoes he or she wears. Sometimes it’s a deliberate statement. People may wear a certain kind of shoes to say: “I’m hip; I’m sexy; I’m a non-conformist: or one of a hundred different messages. Sometimes, shoes are just shoes. And sometimes, you can be misled by the way a shoe looks. Shoes can give an impression that hides reality. But all shoes have a tale to tell. You just need to learn how to listen.
Some of the most interesting tales that shoes have to tell happen when they get separated. It happens all the time—for different reasons. We constantly come upon a single shoe—usually laying by the side of the road—and we wonder why it’s there. Often, we ignore it. We may suspect that there’s a story behind that shoe, but we’re too busy or too distracted to care. We have places to go and things to do, so we miss the wisdom of the soles. But what if we learned to ask, “What did the other shoe see?”