Last weekend, I was on a hike with a friend when the soles to my boots fell off, both of them — within ten minutes of each other.
What are the chances? I think it must have been some sort of odd chemical aging thing. I mean, I’ve had that pair since 2001; I remember because I was on a trip to Arizona with a girlfriend and we found some Lowas on sale.
Yeah, I just googled it: rubber dries with age.
Luckily, these were no ordinary boots. They didn’t just have soles, they had “sole units.” Which meant I was able to keep walking without exposing my feet. Unfortunately, tiny rubber remnants broke off with every step. The poor bunnies who live out in the Santa Monica mountains will have to hop past my garbage for weeks to come. In retrospect, I guess I should have pulled off the clunkers and gone barefoot. I’m a regular enemy of the environment.
Also, it was kind of embarrassing when we went to a cafe afterwards for soup. I pigpenned black crumbs from the door to the counter, from the counter to my table, from my table back to the door. I kept waiting to hear, “Hey lady! You’re littering.” If anyone did, I planned to say, “I’m sorry, my is soul crumbling.”
My soul has been crumbling for a long time.
I used to insist that souls remained intact, and that what people suffer from is psychological damage. A younger me would argue that mental or physical pain can’t possibly harm The Soul.
In fact, last weekend, when my soles fell off, I immediately began envisioning writing an uplifting essay. I loved the symbolism. I’d planned to write about how I continued on the trail, enjoying my dear friend’s companionship and our meaningful conversation, despite the inconvenience of compromised feet. Coupled with the winter holidays (love-light-season-bright), the end of a year, the start of a new one, I thought, “How awesome that my shoes broke!”
Now, I find I can’t write that post with any bit of honesty.
It turns out I’m not that person. I’ve left enough of myself scattered about everywhere I’ve been that I can’t tell what’s left.
The solstice is only one day, but the darkness lasts longer.
Calendars are pulled off the wall and replaced. In a couple days, we’ll use a different digit at the end each time we write out the date. Does it mean anything? The name we call a year is just an identifier, right?
But 2013 is not the same as 2012. It’s later.
And those pieces left behind on the trail, in the cafe (in another country, another year) — some of them were just crumbs, but others were entire beings.
Entire beings are gone.
I listen to my self talk and I remember; I tell myself: Ruth, you get to choose. You get to breathe (thank you) and you get to decide (thank you) just what thoughts are going to be on auto-repeat. So, when you (I say to myself) process an idea like, “Entire beings are gone,” you can remember—
en·tire /enˈtī(ə)r/ Adjective 1. With no part left out; whole. 2. Not broken or decayed.
—you can remember the glimpse you got of their sweet entirety.
Also (I say to myself) go buy some new boots.