The metallic platform sandals I chose for my trek down to the East Village on Friday night were cute, but cutting. By the time I got home - sometime after 1am - I was limping. And when I awoke the next morning, my poor feet were looking worse for the wear and showing signs of blisters.
Tammy Wynette was right (at least in regards to footwear): sometimes it's hard to be a woman.
There was sunshine outside my window and I wanted to join my roommate for a run in the park, but the thought of pulling my running shoes on over last night's battle scars sounded painful. So I found my First Aid kit and got to work - taping, patching and blister-blocking where necessary.
As I sat on the floor, listening to my roommate recount her own war stories from the night before, I reflected on the last time I had gone through this whole foot-care rigmarole.
It was Spain, in September, when I was in the midst of walking 120km from Sarria to Santiago. Each morning I got up when it was still dark (pilgrims are early risers; the Spanish sun is not) and I'd stuff all my belongings back into my backpack and tip-toe out of my hostel room, boots in hand. Then I'd sit on a bench by the front door and go through the ritual - taping, patching and blister-blocking - before finally putting my boots on and hitting the road.
When I was preparing for the pilgrimage, every book, website and pamphlet included an extensive section on foot care. Message boards had active threads where people traded advice on how best to deal with blisters out on the road. Recommended gear lists for pilgrims included special socks to minimize friction, and the best shoes for circulating air and wicking moisture. "Leave your iPhone at home, but do not forget the moleskin and Neosporin," was the consensus of everything I read.
When your feet become your main mode of transport, taking care of them becomes of the utmost importance.
I walk a lot in my city life, though not like I did on the pilgrimage trail. Still, I wonder if I wouldn't benefit by starting each day with a similar morning ritual. My feet may not need the daily attention, but the rest of me probably does - spirit, soul, mind, emotions. Life is hard, and we're all walking wounded.
A blister can be managed if you catch it early; but if the source of irritation goes unchecked, that blister's gonna get nasty. Likewise, small grievances - if unaddressed - tend to wear like pebbles in my proverbial shoe. Better to root them out early, than carry them with me into a new day. Better to take notice each morning how my spirit is limping, so I can shore it up and avoid collapse later on.
Instead of sleeping until the last possible minute and rushing out the door without much thought (my current MO), I'm hoping to structure time for a morning check-in. Maybe I could ask myself: How did I get bruised by the day before? And in light of that, what do I need to pay special attention to in the day ahead? What carried-over hurts, what bad thought-patterns, what problem areas do I need to compensate for, or patch together with some targeted prayer?
And - on a more practical level - can I find a more comfortable pair of going-out sandals that won't mangle my feet?