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Foot Fall

January 16, 2021

We all have them.

But we do not know that until they do not do what they need to do. Stub a toe, get a splinter. Have a shoe misfit. When something goes wrong, we have feet.

Until we walk, or not, jump, skip, or just put them up in silent service.

But our feet are with us, whether we know it or not, whether we like it or not. They are literally lowly. They do have an odor, nails that can be distorted or scary, and variations in skin tone and texture that are, at best, unique.

Feet are fundamental, and extreme. They carry all our weight, fulcrum our effort, even kick our extreme desires. And tell us what happens far from our eyes and nose. I have had friends where disease caused lack of feeling, even amputation. But these extremities are usually the first to feel cold, water, or slippery surfaces with each encounter.

Feet are both metaphoric and symbolic. Jesus told his followers to shake the dust of the faithless off their feet when leaving their home. We put our best foot forward when we want to be the best we can be. When we are at the end of our capacity, we try to put one foot in front of the other.

Some find feet erotic, some apply the most expensive clothing they own upon them. Everyone feels full relief when we remove those precious coverings. Feet are at the heart of our physical lives, except when we are sleeping, and then they can only offer discomfort in being cold.

Each step screams when a blister, splinter, tight shoe or sprain must be endured to walk. The foot either screams or is silent. “Feet don’t fail me now.” is not just about escape, it is the essence of our basic needs only present when unmet.

The reality of toes is both history and mystery. Five digits in symmetry with our hands. Out hands are before our eyes every moment, their touch is fully important, even essential. Our fingers are the full focus of our making anything. Out toes are, what? The delicacy of our hands has a direct reciprocal in the dumbness of our feet. But we cannot live without either unless are lives dramatically change.

But we forget that. We assume we have feet. And they work. Until they don’t.

Our lives flow in metaphors and symbols. Much of my life I am but a foot, doing as needed, only aware of myself when something is not right. Our culture venerates our heads and our hands, the thoughts and creations we offer up, but largely ignores the feet that support the entire body that makes creation.

We forget the humans who are at the basis of our realizations – the ones who actually make or do the things we venerate. Everyone knows the architect, but not a single carpenter is offered up. We laud the idea, but often assume its reality, without knowing the miracle of its realization. For every soloist there is a chorus. For every First Chair there is a section.

The Quarterback is often the meaning and method of a football team, but those before him, the large, sacrificial, devoted linemen are what allow everything to happen, and like feet are only known when they fail.

We can be fully engaged in purpose, plan, even accomplishment: all stopped when we trip. And we trip on our feet. Our most humble body part can bring our entire corpus down, end all our hopes.

Unless we listen to our feet, to the assumed, to the least, to the usually unnecessary, we are ripe for wrecking what we do see and devote to. We all have feet, the forgotten that holds us up. Ready to support or trip.

We can think our eyes and hands define our hopes, or we can know that the world is all we do, not just what is before our eyes. We can know our feet.

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