I don’t know where I got the idea that a man is judged by his shoes. It may have been from a guidance class or some seminar in high school. I think in some cases it could be true. It’s a bit unsightly to go to a formal event where your dirty shoes would be photographed or in any way be emphasized as a big part of your whole get up. But I’m not so sure how I’d feel about a crazy obsession with clean shoes as a normal part of my everyday life.
I got to thinking about this because a pair of shoes that I’ve had for almost four years has finally been showing signs of its degeneration. The sole has barely any grip left; I see some holes – although my feet still don’t get wet in the rain, and there are no holes that show on the inside of the shoe; it looks a bit discolored; the sides are a bit dirtier now. I’ve asked the person who cleans my Dad’s shoes to clean it as well, but this time, she says it’s really hard to get the stains out now. I’m also thinking about the economy of still giving it a try when the edges look like they can chip off any moment. I’m thinking, would it still be worth it to put in the time, energy, and all that effort when this looks like it’s about to give any moment.
I’ve noticed this in the past month, and have registered to my consciousness that the next time I get the opportunity, I should buy a replacement already. These are my main walking shoes, and I still get to use them for my errands and work activities in spite of the quarantine. If they just give out, I won’t have anything sufficient for my purposes.
The universe listens. Luckily enough, I did get to come across a store that carries this tried and trusted brand, plus they were on sale, so I went in and did my shopping. I got a pair that resembles the one I have by about eighty percent – they look enough alike so the pairing and other fashion choices shouldn’t veer too far off. I was brought there – the perfect place, at the perfect time when I had some to spare to shop.
Great. Now I have the perfect replacement shoe. Yet I can’t bring myself to let go of my dilapidated one. It looks ugly compared to this new one, and really, when I wore the old one again even after my recent acquisition, all the manifestations of it needing to be replaced hyped up in my awareness – it felt a bit less comfortable to wear, traction decreasing just a wee bit more, and I would notice all of its little imperfections in a more pronounced way this time around.
My dad always had an opinion about the shoes I’d buy since I was young. He would tell me if a shoe would last long, if it was durable enough, if it could endure harsh weather and wetness, and if it was apt for my lifestyle and my activities. I found myself having to get confirmation on my old shoes – if it was still salvageable or if I should let go.
At first, he said everything was still fine. He asked my how long these shoes have been used and I proudly said, almost four years this December. He says, oh how young. The ones I have in the same brand last me ten years. I let out a slightly pained reaction. I thought my four years of life were impressive enough.
He says everything is fine, but when he sees the slight holes in the sole of the shoe, he says, oh you have to let these go. These won’t keep you dry from the rain any longer. And you might slip from the bluntness of the sole.
I guess that’s that. I could forgive everything about the shoe, the discoloration, the stains, the grip (or the lack thereof), and all of the character its gained throughout the years. I don’t know if it’s really time to let go, or if I’m ready – I have conflicting emotions about this. I excitedly looked at my new shoes this morning and felt appreciative of how beautiful they were.
Will I be judged if I continue to wear these shoes that are almost giving up on me? Will it show? Are the stains and discolorations on the side enough for other people to write me off as unworthy of their attention – ill-mannered and unkempt?
I still used my old shoes the next time I went out. I found myself looking at it in the mirror and noticing how the stains and other imperfections I just noted a while back weren’t as noticeable after all…