5 years ago I found myself moving: Again. Although slightly inconvenient, moving had grown to be my normal. By the time I was in my early thirties, my house changes had nearly reached my age.
This time however, I found myself living in the tiniest of spaces: a 200 square ft. studio apartment with a million dollar view of the downtown skyline. It was there, when I began to use my kitchen cupboards to store my constantly expanding shoe collection, that I began to consider the possibility that my collection of nearly 200 pairs had become excessive.
And so began a journey that stretched over 5 years, 7 more homes, a new country, and my eventual arrival in Hawaii with only 5 pairs in tow. Year after year, move after move, I found myself slowly discarding nearly all the shoes I had been so proud to attain.
Why did I have so many shoes?
I don’t doubt that the societal pressure to adhere to an unattainable standard of beauty played its part. But I would be lying if I did not admit that it basically boiled down to how unhappy I felt. I didn’t recognize it at the time, but I was trying to fill my life up with “things” so that I would feel less empty. I used shopping and as means to discharge negative emotions. Namely as distraction from anxiety and boredom.
Recently, I’ve also come to realize that my ego was involved. It craved the reinforcement of the image I wanted other people to have of me. For example: that I was a fashionable person, that I had disposable income, and that I had the kind of lifestyle that would justify having that amount of shoes.
Sad? Pathetic? Maybe. But it’s a reality I see play out all around us. When there is no consciousness, there is no insight. No opportunity to see your actions for what they really are. Only the shadows they cast.
How does it feel to let go of so many shoes?
Today I own 5 pairs of shoes. (Ok, I have some “cold weather shoes” stored in my aunt’s basement for when I go to visit). And the reality is, that I don’t really miss them. The more shoes I let go of, the more “grounded” (pun intended) I became.
These days, I spend most of my time walking around barefoot, in flip flops or in moccasins. I think it's no coincidence that my feet have never felt this good.
Now that I have gained insight into the real reasons why I was doing what I was doing, (not to mention the implications of my consumerism on the global economy), the entire shoe shopping fantasy has lost it's appeal. For the most part. Turns out, changing habits doesn't happen overnight.
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This blog was created to share my belief that the art making process can be a vehicle for empowerment.
I am living proof.