“Before you criticize someone, you should walk a mile in their shoes. That way when you criticize them, you are a mile away from them and you have their shoes.”
My writing desk at home…Where these posts are drafted!
It’s a funny thing, writing. You can do it for days and days at a time and enjoy every minute of it and yet at some point you need to leave the comfort of your literary reveries – often just for a couple of hours – to take a deep, rejuvenating breath of real life’s fresh air.
Admittedly, I spent much of the holidays taking deep, frequent, even greedy breaths of the free air and I’ve been rather reluctant to dive back in to the chasm – both wondrous and intimidating – of the writer’s mind. But I am back. Truly. These posts should become much more frequent.
I may have to work on my breathing.
I’ve always loved the above quote. Great take on the idea of empathy – though it’s meant to be comedic. I see it like this, if you’re at all interested in my opinion: You won’t always end up understanding the other person whose proverbial shoes you have stolen BUT you will have added a new perspective to the myriad complexities of your own world view.
Or, you just have a nice pair of new shoes. Take your pick.
In reality, though, walking a mile in someone else’s shoes can be downright painful.
Literally…To quote the favourite word of Millennials everywhere.
Perhaps I should explain. For this particular trip, I had opted to exclusively wear a pair of running shoes that my old roommate had left with me.
The offending shoes along with the teeny-tiny token that informs tourists you’re on the Roman trail.
Some people will tell you that all running shoes are relatively the same.
Some people are wrong.
Not only does that kind of take the punch out of the quote above, but it is an inherently inaccurate statement. Our feet are as unique as the rest of us. Trust me.
And my feet, by day 2, were loudly and obnoxiously protesting against this particular pair of shoes that I had forced them into.
Nevertheless, I refused to let the fact that I felt as if all the pressure points in my body had migrated to the soles of my usually-cooperative feet deter me from the adventures ahead.
And so, thanks in part to our combined stubbornness, Kristen and I struck out for the city center.
I say this as if Kristen was also in severe, foot-empathy driven pain. This is not true. She had, wisely, brought her own shoes.
We had traveled a good distance down the already familiar road towards town when another part of our anatomies began a chorus of complaints of another sort – this time in unison. Apparently we were hungry.
Budget-conscious, as any good unemployed-university-grad (read: any university grad at all) should be, we opted for the salad counter at some local grocery store and carted our simple-yet-satisfying meals to the previously offending Princess Margaret gate.
Beer and food are necessities for adventure-planning, Photo Credit: Kristen
As we devoured our salads in front of a grey-looking museum, I can’t for the life of me remember what its contents were supposed to be, we found ourselves watching the Hop-On-Hop-Off tour guides cycling through their shifts in seemingly endless repetition.
These people must have extraordinary amounts of patience and energy really. They stand there in their brightly-coloured jackets hollering at no one in particular in the hopes of filling up their rather large, multi-story buses.
Inevitably, at an appointed hour another bus arrives and honks to let the first bus know it’s time for them to move along. The newly-arrived driver opens the doors, letting out what usually amounts to a trickle of discombobulated tourists, and then steps out themselves for an impromptu-and-yet-totally-expected Tour Bus Driver huddle. Within a few minutes, they have said all they need to say and the second driver begins his or her break. The first driver clocks in and herds as many cats, er, humans onto their bus as possible and then screeches out of the idling lane at an alarming pace.
And then the cycle begins all over again. Such is the poetry of the Hop-On-Hop-Off Tour Bus Hub.
These tours, from experience, are often a wonderful way to cover large distances in a very short amount of time.
However, after spending the better part of a half-hour watching the never-ending Dance of the Perpetually Lost Tourists, Kristen and I had no desire to kick up our heels, so to speak.
After all, we wanted to see Mountains, Gandalf, Mountains!
…Or Roman Walls. Those will work too.
We walked slowly up the steps to the nearest portion of the ancient walls – breathless with both anticipation and the exertion of stumbling up uneven stone staircases.
I couldn’t help but drag my hand along the crevices in the ramparts as we climbed – as if trying to grasp the physical history of the place.
And you know what? In the excitement of the moment, I had temporarily forgotten the pain in my foreign-clad feet.
Stay tuned for next week’s post: The Watchers on the Walls