As a little girl, I could not be tamed, at least when it came to shoes. I loved to run around with my feet bare. It was more than love, actually. It was a need. I felt like I could barely breathe when I wore them. I remember pausing once, what feels like a million years ago, to debate if the sand on the beach was truly too hot for my tiny little feet tolerate. My threshold was quite high, and my heart longed to sink down into the earth with each step but when the sun had shined too brightly once before, I’d felt like my feet were melting.
So much changed in the years between then and adulthood — not the least of which was a former spouse who was afraid of dirty things, including feet. Eventually, I spent more time in shoes than out. I stopped pulling them off at the first opportunity. I would sometimes even put them on when I didn’t actually need them.
I observed myself and wondered what had changed, why the little rebellious barefoot girl kept wearing shoes. It wasn’t that I didn’t long to be barefoot because I did. It was as if… the longing no longer had any actual pull with me. I rather missed being the little girl who couldn’t bear to be shoed.
It was easy to chalk up to maturity, although I didn’t feel particularly mature during that time. Also, I found myself feeling more and more distant from the natural world. I didn’t want to be sticky from sweat. I didn’t want to get dirty, or to feel the grass under my feet for fear that I would get bitten or injured. I didn’t smell flowers, eye the moon as she waxed and waned through each cycle, or feel the magic of the forest surrounding me for morning hikes.
I was growing apart from the earth, I can clearly see now, but I didn’t recognize what was happening.
And then, a woman came to my home, an energy healer, and during her session with my wife, they walked together barefoot in the grass. She spoke of grounding and healing, and while my session was nurturing in its own way, I envied their ritual.
Just like that, I was haunted by the call of the wild once more.
The next morning, I snuck away to be with myself outside. I walked to the edge of the patio, slipped nervously out of my shoes, and stepped off into the grass. It was cool, and moist, and my toes rebelled a bit at first, reaching for the cleanliness of the sky. I coaxed them downward onto the earth and stood there for a while. One step, then another, and another.
I giggled inside first… and then aloud.