For a while I thought that I had this project figured out. Don’t buy anything new, it’s so simple. It’s all so unbelievably simple. I created simple guidelines and then I follow them. it’s a no brainer, right? Right.
But there is a part of the mind that I’m still struggling with. A part of my own social conditioning that has such powerful control over our inner dialogue… a part of our being that is undeniably created by our consumer culture and is, I’m finding, very challenging to overcome. It plays on our insecurities and it weakens our reserve.
I was lonely and in a hormonal valley of crazy after i stopped breastfeeding six weeks ago. I was struggling with a bit of hormonally charged depression and my insecurities were really pounding me harder than they do on the average day. I was being offered help and for weeks I was refusing it. Part of it was fueled by my insecurities, but there was something else going on too.
Something was holding me back. I had a new friend gently holding out her hand to me, welcoming me into her space. Offering me exactly what it was that I needed… and I would smile and thank her and then I would retreat. Some of it was my own insecurity, sure, but most of it… if I’m being completely honest, was something that is actually shameful. Most of it was shoes.
A pair of old beat up once-white trainers where standing in my way.
I bought these trainers when I was living in Melbourne cleaning houses to get me through the final year of my degree. I bought them on the sale rack from a seconds store for $13. They are as cheap in make as they were in price and in the past 5 years they haven’t held up well. They are incredibly uncomfortable and I think they are unsightly and I can’t replace them. Not quickly anyway. So for a few weeks I let a pair of trainers stand in the way. Inside my head I heard my own voice. I heard my own insecurities wash over me. I can’t hike in those shoes. I need new shoes. New shoes would make me hike better. New shoes would make me hike longer. They would make me better at making new friends. They would help me fit in. They would make me better. I would be a better person.
That is what all those ads are telling us, after all. Is it not? The product they are pushing will make you a better woman/man/parent/lover… this product will make you a better person. It’s this sort of bullshit that I’m trying to push against this year… but there it was, standing in my way.
New shoes (or the lack thereof), stood in my way.
I let them.
Then one day I realised exactly what was happening, I was letting my own insecurities get in the way and I was seriously sabotaging my own happiness. I looked in the mirror and I said out loud, ‘enough with the damn shoes, man… enough already.‘ I got out of bed and I put on the shoes. I put on the shoes and I went to the beach and I hiked. I hiked with strong, powerful, thoughtful women. I felt my body move and I felt my body breathe and instantly I felt lighter for it. And you know what? Nobody gave a damn about my shoes. Not even me.
We keep going back. Bo and I. To the same dunes. With like minded women who are wonderful sounding boards for ideas and inspiration. We return for the company. We return for the challenge. To push my body to its limit. To climb and breathe and watch the boats on the horizon from the top of the rocky hills behind the dunes. We keep going back. And after we hike for an hour and a half we down the hill onto the soft white sand, I slip off the shoes and I feel the sand between my toes. And I feel alive. For a moment I feel completely alive and i feel a part of something bigger than just myself.
And I’m grateful for those ugly, uncomfortable shoes… because without them, I wouldn’t have been able to climb those hills at all.