Walking Barefoot on the Underside of Life

[thoughts from   ~burning woman~   by Sha’Tara]

When I was a child I wanted to walk barefoot but my parents, particularly my mother, forbade it. I believe she thought it would make us look poor in the eyes of other villagers, as if we were anything but poor and our poverty was any different than anyone else living in that forgotten place. Perhaps there were deeper reasons she would never share.

It was to be much later in life that I would find or create my own personal type of freedom.  That was when  I rediscovered the joy of walking barefoot upon the earth, a joy I am constantly rediscovering even now at 71 years of age. I walk barefoot as much as my life allows, mostly in my own yard, in sunshine, rain, snow, mud, crush, mulch among the shrubs, in the garden, and I love to kick off my sandals and drive barefoot.

It’s not just the freedom of it, or the life-long rebellion against societal mores, so many of which are not just ridiculous but downright insane and unhealthy. There is much more.

When I walk barefoot, I can feel the earth reaching through my feet all the way up to my brain. I become aware of my body touching the rest of life. I care what I step on, and how I step on it; how I stand or where I put pressure on the earth. I feel a throbbing that is blocked by the wearing of artificial soles. I can feel the earth’s joy and also her sorrow.

In unfamiliar territory, bare feet become inquisitive and protective of themselves. This brings me to look down at what is around me. I will explain why that is important but before, I must say that I wish, oh I so wish, that I had had parents and teachers who had known about the powerful healing effects of the barefoot walk and had not only encouraged me (us children) to walk thus, but had explained why we should do so. But such knowing people do not exist, certainly not in Western societies.

Now I must do the explaining, although I know quite well that it is much, much too late for this society to learn how to walk barefoot by renouncing its societal mores.

When I walk barefoot I am both, mentally empowered and physically weakened. I want to focus on the benefits of such physical weakening because it is directly conducive to developing humility, probably one of the most maligned “virtues” in these societies built on entitlement.

In this hard and harsh materialistic society, feet are dangerously vulnerable to many dangers: stubbing of toes, cutting by broken glass, broken rocks and pieces of cement; slivers from chunks of metal or wood; crushing from falling crates, bottles, tools and various kinds of implements, burning from spilled chemicals, puncturing from rusty nails protruding from a fallen fence picket hidden in grass, or a number of such impediments.

In teaching myself the art of walking barefoot I have experienced all of the above. It’s inevitable really because people are incredibly careless, lacking the empathy needed to prevent them from being crass about leaving dangerous garbage about. This is a dirty, filthy, unhealthy society. How does the barefoot person approach such a condition?

One word describes it best: humility. Indeed. There is a park behind my house where I like to go and walk, or run, barefoot. I’ve had people tell me it was a stupid thing to do because there are those “horrible” homeless people that go there at night to shoot up and who leave needles on the ground. I don’t know, I’ve never seen “needles” in the park. More to the point, there are those who walk their dogs and can’t be bothered to pick up after their animals. I have stepped in dog poo with my bare feet many times. At first I was incensed. But it forced me to walk down to the river at the bottom of the park and walk in the water, rubbing my feet in its mud, or sand, or weeds, depending where I was and feel the washing and healing action of the water. That was an amazing realization.

After a few times in the dog poo, I learned to accept it as the consequences of barefooting. Whether people despoil their public or private spaces is really none of my business. I’m a walking observer, not really much of a participant. I don’t engage most of the things people around me seem to find pleasure in doing, certainly not in drugs, and I don’t have pets. I find my pleasure in things they know nothing about, or would not find pleasurable if they had to do them. I accept that now, as part of the change process.

When I speak of “barefoot humility” I’m not thinking of being poor, unable to afford shoes, sandals or flip-flops. I’m thinking of what it means to approach this hard/harsh world with my vulnerable bare feet. I’m thinking of having to bow my head and look down; look at the ground, the floor, the sidewalk, the road, the site, and guide my feet through obstacles that could prove painful or detrimental to them. There is no room for pride here.

In this barefoot exercise, I have the choice of cursing those who ignorantly leave dangerous or filthy things in the way of others, particularly on public streets, sidewalks, parking lots or parks. Or I can accept this aspect of society, refusing to react in anger, but rather with a sadness at the overt self-destructiveness of human nature. I allow my feet to do the talking, and I listen, very carefully.

Feet, in our materialistic society are jewels encased in hard boxes or crates called shoes, never to be exposed to what lies under them. We have no idea, until we remove our shoes and relearn how to walk on the earth, how much our protective equipment we call shoes and clothes, have taken away from our identity with our world.

Encased in our various types of armour; driving our polluting and destructive machines; locked in our equally unhealthy air-conditioned/centrally heated box homes, we storm and stomp through the earth as conquerors, rapists, violators and murderers. We do not feel because we cannot feel. We live in artificial exoskeletons that deny us our natural heritage which demands that we daily touch the earth with our natural nakedness. We are denied, and we deny ourselves and we become “more machine than man” as we progress towards the ringing bells of our earth’s death knell.

There is a movement under way called “Free the Nipple” by people who believe that women should have the same right to go topless in public as men do. Perhaps we need a movement called “Free the Feet” so we can once again walk barefoot wherever we choose, including in restaurants and all other type of stores or offices.

Beautiful feet are not found inside prisons called shoes. They are found naked and free.

Totally out of context perhaps but a truly fine expression: “As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!” [Isaiah 52:7]”

 

 

15 thoughts on “Walking Barefoot on the Underside of Life

  1. Akhila

    Barefoot humility is an issue in our society actually…long back when i too understood the importance of walking barefooted , i decided to keep the practice.. But to be frank i couldn’t streamline it till now.. Occasionally i do.. But atleast i could win over that humility issue now…

    Reply
    1. Sha'Tara Post author

      Thank you for your comment, Akhila. I am pleased to learn that you are way ahead of me on this issue. It was only recently that I made the connection between walking barefoot and humility, as I discovered also that humility is a necessary aspect of compassion. One who is not humble, or does not practice humility in heart cannot claim to be compassionate. Therefore it is important to find ways, methods, means, that “force” us, or remind us, to be ever mindful of our approach to others: is it in pride, or is it in humility? I must be constantly answering that question for myself.

      Reply
      1. Sha'Tara Post author

        Thanks Akhila. Yes, seems to me that is the choice, and it is “black and white” never a grey area. Diametrically opposite forces cannot coexist in the same carrier. A person is either humble, or proud, no mix n’ match! That is why I reject all types of “faith” based systems, they are all upheld by pride, whether religious, traditional, patriotic or tribal. “Believe all things, believe in nothing” is my guiding motto! 🙂

  2. kertsen

    Sha’Tara you are a rebel ; untamed by life and untamed by religion, but like all rebels you pick your areas of rebellion carefully accepting all the advantages of civilisation. You remind me of those brave souls who navigate the ocean in small sailing boats but making sure they have wireless contact, or those who insist on rubbing two sticks together instead of carrying matches.
    Apparently there is evidence some humans wore foot covering forty thousand years ago and it changed the nature of the foot besides enabling fast pursuit of prey. It’s an interesting area of research for those with time and money on their side.
    We are clumsy creatures last week I crushed a snail , it was a sad moment for me , but they say that when you turn over a rock you deprive many small creatures of their habitat, but then the very act of living deprives others of the enjoyment of the same. I wonder how those Buddhist monks tread carefully or perhaps meditation causes minimal interference. I don’t think ‘ Free the Feet would have many takers how about ‘ Free the Sex Act ‘ or do you think that may upset too many religious people?

    Reply
    1. Sha'Tara Post author

      Thank you Kersten. I’m totally with you on “Free the Sex Act” and I don’t care if it upsets religious people; religions have been making societal decisions and writing our laws for way too long. Sadly, religions are dragon-sized chameleons and morphing inventions: when cut off or crushed in one area they resurface under different names and rituals but it is always the same animal inside. Although primarily patriarchal today, I would still compare organized religions to Gorgons for they do, in most cases, turn people to stone, depriving them of their humanity.

      Reply
    2. Sha'Tara Post author

      Your comment touches on so many topics dear to me, I am replying again. From the top, your description of my “rebellion” reminds me that I was taught to approach my changes as a martial arts master approaches an enemy: use her/his size/weight/weaponry/skills against him. Make him commit, follow through. The key to countering the nefarious processes of civilization lies in constant, silent, unobtrusive observation, NEVER in loud protest. Then begins the work of undermining, using society’s overt foibles against it. Long ago society saw me as an enemy because I wanted to make changes and I organized and loudly protested against various types of overt injustice. Those days passed and I remained alive and unscathed – not even a day in court! Now society sees an ‘old’ person going about helping others and thinks it’s wonderful. But I am a much more effective “destroyer” now than I ever was. I’m a wood borer, a carpenter ant. All the system sees is that nice fine sawdust I leave behind… 🙂

      As for foot covering, I have some off-the-wall explanations for that too. After much studying and pondering I have concluded that “man” is an artificial creature, only in part connected to earth. The Earthian body was never designed to last or even to procreate. It was a totally expendable “tool” designed by invaders called the Anunnaki. They created/cloned Earthians as a slave race, mixing “Neanderthal” and Alien DNA. First just males, then the females were thrown in as slaves of the males, to feed, clean, and satisfy their sexual appetites. Reluctantly the females were “retooled” so they would be fertile, able to carry a pregnancy to term and to actually give birth. This was seen as a necessity to speed up the process of slave replacement as the death factor in the cloned beings was very costly to the corporate work of extracting minerals, mostly gold, from the planet. Thousands of slave females died in the experiment. Many more thousands died in childbirth as they would carry their pregnancies for up to twelve months by which time both mother and child died. The post “Eden” story was a horror show indeed.

      The process took place almost simultaneously all over the planet, in both hemispheres. Different Anu races cloned differently shaped and skin-toned Earthian bodies, but all were essentially of one race. Those mixed with animals, and many were tried, did not succeed and were either killed, or left to their own devices. Legends sprung from these unfortunate experiments such as the Minotaur and Faun. This happened, best guess, around a half million years ago. After the demise of the Anunnaki who got into succession and territorial disputes and began genocidal wars against one-another, even using nuclear devices when most of them left, many of the Earthian remnants went wild, for example the African pygmy people, the Maoris, the Amazon forest aborigines, etc., and did better than most at re-adapting to a normal “evolutionary” natural type of life. Some went in the opposite direction, gradually “re-calling” their memories of Anunnaki technology and building the current civilization. Nutshell unacknowledged “hidden” history no one is supposed to discover.

      All that to say that our Earthian bodies are not natural, hence subject to many problems and diseases for which we can find no cure (psoriasis is a prime example) or we thought we’d found a cure only to find the boomerang returning with a vengeance. We are GMO’s. Hence the need for protection with footwear, clothing, drugs, buildings, vehicles, centralized distribution systems, all things we should never have needed, nor ever thought of. Add the need for agriculture to supply ever-expanding and unsustainable cities and the picture begins to emerge, if very reluctantly. Our “civilizing” efforts, so dreadfully costly for the rest of the world, were never going to succeed. They are built on a false premise, that we are a master race. We are in fact a slave race with huge, deliberately inserted, brain gaps in the way we perceive our physical reality. Our science is as doomed as were our religions, and our governments. Science is a dead-end quest, its technology creating more problems whenever it seems that it has actually solved something.

      We are clumsy creatures because we are not connected to this environment. We don’t fit here, or anywhere. We don’t know where we are; we don’t know what we are and until we determine, one on one, to “recreate” ourselves in a human image, adapting painfully to all the requisites of the human nature, we will remain in this limbo, surviving more or less, but without any real purpose. An abandoned “thing” out of time and out of place.

      Cheering, isn’t it? Well, I can tell you this: we were also given the wherewithal to recreate ourselves. All we need add is self discipline, self empowerment, desire, courage and compassion for those who try and fail. By the same token we need to relinquish our pride or hubris, our greed, our fear and hate, our driving need to conquer and subdue. We need to learn to live without institutions.

      Reply
  3. franklparker

    I, too, love to go bare footed – and bare all over come to that – but these days I have poor circulation and my feet get very cold unless encased in socks even in bed! But all power to you for your bare footed humility.

    Reply
  4. Lisa R. Palmer

    Powerful and provocative, Sha’Tara. When I was young, I was always barefoot. Today I have damaged feet that do not allow me to walk barefoot without great pain (these two truths are not related; my damaged feet were not caused by going barefoot). I wonder how this relates to what you are saying here. Is the pain I experience today (when barefoot) merely indicative of the pain experienced by the Earth herself, and all life upon it?

    As for humility, I agree completely; it is both necessary and sufficient to experiencing and acting with compassion. But I believe humility gets a bad rap, presented as it often is as self-deflating. True humility, for me, is recognizing my true place in the hierarchy of being – no better, but also no less, than all other beings. It keeps me on an even keel, neither rising above Others, nor sinking below them.

    Beautiful, thoughtful, inspiring post. Thank you!

    Reply
  5. Sha'Tara Post author

    Quote: “Is the pain I experience today (when barefoot) merely indicative of the pain experienced by the Earth herself, and all life upon it?” Depending on your level of empathy and how well it coordinates with your immune system, you are the only one who could answer that. Being a high level empath in a predator-driven environment will naturally cause many discomforts of mind and body. To counteract the physical downside, one needs to develop a healthy lifestyle and powerful immune system. I consider my high state of health to a lifetime of awareness of my internal “engine” shall we say. I learned long ago to avoid the medical and drug system and chose instead a natural self healing path. Much of that is self discipline which I see so many people lacking. The mind discomforts that could easily lead to depression are countered through a life reflecting concern for “others” before concern for self. Compassion expressed through self-sacrificing giving. Now there’s a “hated” word in today’s selfishly entitled consumer world! Because of the powerful emphasis on satisfying the self pushed by an artificial system, it is in the opposite or in self denial that we find our peace and all those wonderful things that form a circle of angelic music around it: joy, patience, kindness, goodness, humility, gentleness… all those “virtues” that bring us unsought for happiness and show us the true meaning of life, and being alive in it, not in surviving it or in taking advantage of it.

    Reply
  6. Woebegone but Hopeful

    Beautiful essay Sha’Tara on natural choices available and how to make the best of them. I did enjoy the colour of the descriptions and the imagery these brought.
    I’m afraid I wrap myself up in armour, always have done. Wound tight I guess.

    Reply

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