Walking Barefoot

bare feet in the grass

Here’s something I do: I walk barefoot. Not just around the house, not just on the beach, but everywhere, pretty much all the time, and in most kinds of weather. Of course I recognize a few limits. There are places where it is just not safe or socially acceptable to go barefoot. And here in Iowa, there are definitely winter days when it is just too cold and snowy for bare feet. Also, I’m not such a hardcore barefooter that I refuse to wear shoes. On the contrary; I have some shoes that I like, which are very comfortable, and are a pleasure to wear. Given a choice, however, I prefer to leave my feet bare.

Now some people are going to think this is weird, and some are going to find it gross. Whenever a celebrity is snapped walking around town barefoot, comments tend to be along the lines of, “That’s so dirty and disgusting!” I’m not here to argue about the health pros and cons for going barefoot, nor to debate hygiene. There are plenty of Facebook groups and websites that carry on at length about such matters. I’m also not here to promote some sort of foot fetish. It’s not hard to find websites devoted to that either.

For me, going barefoot simply feels good. I enjoy the feel of the ground beneath my feet, and there is something therapeutic about going on long barefoot walks, over diverse terrain, letting my soles feel the many textures thus encountered. It feeds my soul. (See what I did there?) I’m not sure I buy all the stuff currently going around online about “grounding” or “earthing,” but I do know that I feel good when I walk and I feel better when I walk barefoot.

I like to say, only half-jokingly, that I’m on good Biblical footing! After all, Moses is told, “Remove the sandals from your feet, for the place where you stand is holy ground.” (Exodus 3:5). Joshua receives almost verbatim instructions (Joshua 5:15). Stephen repeats the Moses story in Acts 7:33. If the earth is holy—and Genesis assures us that it is: “God looked at everything he had made, and found it very good” (Genesis 1:31)—we should not be afraid to touch it with our bare feet.

Grunt and Snort

Truman Capote said that everyone wants to have written, but no one wants to write. Sometimes I feel like that. Like now. I have a notepad right next to me on which I’ve written a whole list of ideas of things to write about. At the moment, not one of them appeals to me. So should I put off writing until I feel more inspired?

I have a few options at this point:

  • I could plow ahead with my writing. (Apparently this is the option I’ve chosen, since I’m still writing.)
  • I could turn my attention elsewhere.
  • I could try to force inspiration on myself.

That last one is not as crazy as it sounds. Of course it’s awesome when a compelling idea hits me out of nowhere like a blinding flash of creative lightning, but that happens pretty rarely. More often, it comes down to what my 11th grade English teacher called “a grunt and snort exercise.” You simply have to sit down and grind away at it. Between giving up and grinding is the option to give inspiration a little nudge–doing something to kickstart the creative juices. That could mean watching an inspiring TED talk, listening to an appropriate podcast, or doing some reading. (I have to be careful with that last one. It is vital for a wannabe writer to read, but I can easily get so involved with my reading that my own writing never happens.)

What works best for me is walking. Sometimes it helps to deliberately think about my writing while I walk, or to consciously seek out inspiration, but more often than not, simply walking with no particular aim either mentally or geographically is most effective. Other times planting myself in a busy public space and people-watching does the trick. One thought that is counter-productive is, “I must be productive!” Some of the times when I’ve accomplished the most are times when to an observer I would appear to be doing nothing at all. (I can overthink this too if I’m not careful. The awareness that I’m doing nothing only in order to be productive is not helpful!)

Voila! In this case, the grunt and snort method worked. I’ve earned a nice relaxing walk.