For as long as I can remember - well, at least in my adult life - I have wanted a pair of red shoes. I can't say exactly where this desire came from. Perhaps it was a cry from my feet; to break away from utilitarian and unflattering footwear. Maybe I harbored a secret hope that these Flintstone feet (i.e. short and wide) of mine could, too, be pretty one day.
This hankering would surface when I was in Europe, watching women confidently click-clack over the cobblestones in footwear that screamed of high fashion - or at least a very good imitation of one. The desire nagged when I saw a pig-tailed toddler triumphantly climbing up the slide in her little ruby reds that sparkled and would make any Wizard of Oz fan swell with a bit of jealousy.
These shoes seemed to be saying something - a bigger message that whispered, "Just wear me..."
It was a wintry day, right after Christmas, not a special day, but one of significance nevertheless. We were shopping with Babi (the kids Czech grandma) in a small shop in Czech Republic. The store was the typical cramped layout of clothing shops. The proprietress was Vietnamese. The children were particularly cheerful because grandma had bought them all kinds of presents: shoes, gloves, umbrellas, socks, underwear. It was Christmas all over again. I, on the other hand, was glum. I had made no purchase and blamed it on the extra pounds (or kilos) around my middle.
But all of that melted away when - after the short jaunt to the back of the shop - I happened upon the perfect red shoes ever in the history of red shoes. I pointed them out to my mother-in-law and we eagerly sought out my size. Admittedly, I held back the thrill just a bit because, really, what if they didn't fit?
I slipped my horse hoof into the shoe. The angels sang. Mom-in-law bought the shoes. Yes, Christmas all over again.
That night I emailed a girlfriend, "What was life like before red shoes?"
These babies harnessed an energy that I could not have anticipated. My step felt bouncier, my stride was confident. I reveled in people's downward glances and approving nods. Strangers would compliment them without fail and I could no longer go out in public without being noticed. The shoes were celebrities.
And so began The Journey of the Red Shoes...
You might notice that my beloved shoes have a scuff on the toe. This happened when I - literally - dove into the future. In doing so, my shoes took a beating, as did my left hand.
I'm not going to lie - I was very sad about damaging my shoes. It felt like some magic had died and it would be appropriate to say that I mourned their loss of newness, their perfection.
But in there, I found a metaphor.
These shoes are about doing and going places, not just being pretty. I was reminded that, embracing the future and being an agent of change means walking in the shoes. There's work to be done and the shoes are inevitably going to get scraped, nicked, or dinged. The stitching will come undone, the soles will wear out, but in the end, the whole of me will be just fine.
It's not about the shoes, it's about the person wearing the shoes. There will always be more shoes, but forever in the history of the world, there will be only one you.
The shoes therefore, became a symbol of my core values: Empowerment, Positivity, and Passion. When I wear these shoes, I feel empowered and energized. Red is a power color. While some might argue that this can lead to power structure, power plays, and positions of power, I think it's wise to reserve a little red for ourselves. What better place to put a little power and energy than on your feet?
These red shoes are made for walking...