Neon Lime Green Shoes
I encountered this man Saturday on my walk. The first thing I noticed were his shoes. Not because they were brand new neon lime green and black walking shoes, but because they were not on his feet. He was carrying them. He was barefoot. On the hot, tar trail. No socks. Deep in thought. Very deep in thought. Staring at the ground like he was looking for a giant hole to open up so he could jump in it.
He appeared to be 40ish. Dark hair, nicely cut. Clean-shaven. Tan. Nice shorts and shirt - a little too nice for a long walk on the trails. Brand new eye-catching shoes - in his hand.
I wanted an explanation for why he was barefoot and carrying his shoes. No, I did not ask him. I didn't dare. His gaze was so intense, I thought lasers might come out of his eyes and bore a hole in me instead of the ground.
What happened to this guy? Did he lose his job? Did his spouse leave him? Did his kid get arrested for drug possession? Did his dog run away and get eaten by a coyote?
Or, was it something less dramatic? Did he lose out on a sales call leading to less of a bonus? Was he contemplating a brand new door ding and wondering how that happened? Was he contemplating the potential recall of the current governor of California?
Or, maybe I have it all entirely wrong? Maybe he discovered his brand new shoes weren't so comfortable after all? Maybe he had a blister developing? Maybe he simply wanted to remember what it felt like to walk barefoot outside like he used to do as a kid?
Did you see how fast I assigned thoughts and feelings and tragedies and problems on this total stranger based on the fact that he was carrying what appeared to be brand new neon lime green shoes? In every narrative I created, the man was unhappy for one reason or another.
Passing judgment, assigning feelings, creating untrue narratives in our heads about another person. We all do it. It's always wrong to do. Why do we do that?
At this very moment, I am sitting outside between Starbucks and Corner Bakery on an outside patio listening to other people talk - about other people.
How come we don't ask the person we are sitting across how they feel? How come we are all afraid to talk about our real feelings? More important, how come we are afraid to hear from another person their real feelings? I think we are more afraid to hear it from another than to talk about our own.
I missed the opportunity. I wish that man would come walking onto this patio either wearing or carrying those same shoes so I can ask him why he was carrying them.
Look around you. Who's feelings should you dive deeper into? Not would you, not could you. Should you? And if you drummed up the courage, could you listen well enough to learn something about yourself? Would you? Do you have the courage to listen?
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Thanks for reading!
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