kids had grown up and moved out. Chuck, Booboo and I had settled into
a comfortable routine…now that it was just the three of us. Rather
than being “the family dog,” Booboo had become our companion. We
spent a good amount of time just hanging out with him.
was getting older, 11 or 12 years old, and I realized that his time
with us would wrap up in the not-too-distant future. I was concerned
about how our family would handle his death. Actually, I was
concerned about how our kids would handle his death…for
decided I’d better nip this in the bud. Do a bit of preventive
communication. I made it clear that no matter how sad we were when
Booboo died, do
under any circumstances, get us another puppy to cheer us up.
in advance of Booboo’s death, Chuck and I were planning to be
pet-free…once Booboo was gone. As much as we loved him and would
miss him, we were ready for a phase of life when traveling, in
particular, would be less complicated.
you planning to get another dog?” is a regular question we’ve
gotten since Booboo’s death. For Chuck, the answer is a definite
“no.” For me, the answer is “not at this time.” Then comes
the question, “But what about the void?” It surprised me how many
people used the same phrase…the void…and talked about it as if it
were a power beyond our control. A black hole that relentlessly pulls
at your heart strings, reminding you of what’s been lost, until you
give in and refill it.
didn’t take long for me to encounter the void. The empty space that
used to be filled with Booboo’s energy, spirit, and personality…as
well as his physical presence. The routines that were so much a part
of my day, were now altered or non-existent. Routines like taking
Booboo for a walk when I got up in the morning and when I got home
from work in the evening…no
need to do that anymore. Bringing
a ball and his bed to the laundromat, so we could play fetch while we
wait for the dryer to finish…no
one to play fetch with now. Lying
in bed and reaching to pet Booboo, who always cuddled up next to
just an empty space.
void. The sudden emptiness that used to be so full of energy…and
love. Even when death is long expected, the emptiness feels sudden.
Like turning off a light switch that won’t go back on. Even if the
bulb has slowly gotten dimmer, one’s eyes have adjusted. When it
switches off for good, it’s quick and irreversible.
can only imagine how difficult the void would be when a loved one’s
health is good and death comes unexpectedly. Then you’re going from
full light to complete darkness…in an instant. The book Wave
by Sonali Deraniyagala,
who lost her parents, husband, and two young sons in the 2004
tsunami, tells the story of such loss, and the unbearable emptiness
that follows. I read this book shortly after Booboo’s passing.
While the intensity of her loss was much greater than ours, I found
many similarities in her process of grieving and healing…and
particularly her reference to the void.
can see why people will choose to get a new dog fairly quickly after
the death of their previous one. Even though it’s not the same
animal as the one you loved and lost, it allows you to keep a similar
routine and calm the power of the void. You again have someone to
take for a walk, greet you when you come home, and cuddle with in the
than filling the void, I wanted to understand it and learn to work
through it. I didn’t miss having a dog. I missed Booboo. I missed
my friend. The dog who converted many self-proclaimed non-dog people
to at least liking this dog.
The dog who would settle into my arms, and often fall asleep, while I
did a variety of activities…such as shopping, conversation, and
cooking. The dog who loved to hunt for Easter eggs and get his own
presents from under the Christmas tree, leaving all other presents
undisturbed. The dog who some people wanted to clone, because they
had never met a dog like Booboo and wanted one just like him. (I
always discouraged the cloning idea.)
another dog would not be the same. The void would be filled
superficially. I would soon have to come to terms with the fact that
the new animal is a dog, but not the same dog. And like I said
before, I didn’t miss having a dog. I missed Booboo.
first few months were the hardest. I still expected him to be there.
Every routine, every memory caused me to have to lose him over and
over again. Coming home and looking for him…no,
Waking up in the morning and reaching to pet him…no,
Seeing a toy or snack at the store that he would like…no
need, he’s no longer with us.
the reality of his absence sunk in and many of my routines had been
changed, I no longer had to keep reminding myself that he was gone.
At that point, my memories of him became a source of comfort, rather
than a painful reminder of loss. And the void started to calm.
am grateful that Booboo came into our lives, and I now delight in the
memories of our time together. Everyone I’ve known, and especially
those I’ve loved, are deeply a part of me…never to be separated
completely. Working through this void has been quite a worthwhile
lesson. Getting beyond what’s been lost, to the point of joy and
gratitude for what was gained. The lessons learned from Booboo, with
him, and because of him will help in all other areas of my life.
void can be filled or can be worked through and calmed…or some
combination of the two. My old routines have been replaced with new
ones. Some intentionally altered, like playing solitaire at the
laundromat instead of fetch, and others more naturally changed, like
being able to stay downtown after work, rather than having to come
home first. Life after the void is different, and yet in a new way
it’s still good.
we get another dog some day? Hard to say for sure. When I’m an old
lady, another dog might be a welcome addition. We’ll see. The void
has calmed. My memories of Booboo now bring a smile of joy, more
often than a tear of sadness. Change is a part of life. Loss is a
part of life. But the love stays with you…through it all.
been avoiding mainstream medicine, as much as possible, for years. I
will only go to a doctor, or take a family member to one, when I want
to confirm a diagnosis or fix an injury. Most prescriptions that are
offered are either declined or left unfilled, unless the doctor can
give a compelling reason why their benefits would outweigh their many
attitude and approach is the result of repeated disappointment with
the medical industry’s ability to prevent or heal disease…something
they repeatedly claim they can do. I see doctors as a resource of
information, with limited knowledge and a limited viewpoint. Since I
read health and medical books for fun, I have a growing foundation of
knowledge regarding various conditions and their treatment options. I
consider my perspective and opinions to be just as valid to the
situation as theirs; and often more so, since I know myself and my
family members far better than the doctor ever could.
rarely takes long in the course of a visit to realize that the doctor
doesn’t agree with me on this point…at all. The doctor is the
“expert” and I am expected to “comply” with the doctor’s
“orders.” Clearly they don’t know me very well. I will be
polite during the visit, ask questions, and get his/her opinion…then
go home and do additional research about other options, before
deciding how best to move forward. I had never met a doctor who
showed me an equal level of respect and consideration, where I could
actually voice my opinion during the visit…until Kevin.
family member who needed care was our 14-year-old toy poodle, Booboo.
He had a growing list of health issues, yet every vet I had taken him
to either didn’t think my concern about his symptoms was anything
to worry about, or wanted to run a bunch of expensive and invasive
tests that wouldn’t accomplish anything towards improving his
health or comfort level. It had been two years since Booboo’s last
vet visit, and the only thing accomplished during that last visit was the
stressing out of our poor old dog.
here we were. I wasn’t happy with any vet we had seen so far, and
yet I needed some insight into the specific problems Booboo was
dealing with. An internet search of local vets led me to a new vet in
Toman at Mission Animal Hospital.
His website showed he embraced nutrition and homeopathy, in addition
to mainstream medicine. I have found that any doctor willing to
accept homeopathy as a valid form of medicine has loosened the straps
of his medical training enough to allow himself to be open to
alternatives. This was a good sign. I called his office and made an
health issues were quite advanced, especially his congestive heart
failure. His cataracts, deafness, spinal arthritis, and dental decay
all aggravated his declining condition. We accepted that we would not
be able to heal most of these diseases, and instead focused on things
that might make him more comfortable…until it was clearly time to
let him go.
interaction with Kevin, his wife Diane, and their office staff lasted
a total of two months. It was an experience that far surpassed any
interaction I have ever had with anyone in the medical
community…before or since. When I made my last visit to his office
to pick up Booboo’s ashes, Kevin was working alone at the front
counter. After we took care of business, I looked him in the eye and asked if
he had any idea how unique he was. He paused, and then joked that his
wife would probably agree he was unique, but he wasn’t sure if that
was a good thing.
are several things that made it clear that Kevin sees his role
differently than most medical professionals do. He is very open about
everything he does. There are windows in his examination rooms and no
roof. You can hear everything he’s telling the pet family in the
next room, which gives you a feel for his approach to animal care
before you even meet him. When he comes in, he drops the “Dr”
when introducing himself. He’s just Kevin. This sets a
collaborative tone to the visit, rather than an expert/patient
hierarchy. He then sits on the floor and listens, really listens, as
you tell him about your animal and any concerns you have.
our visits, information flowed both directions – him getting a feel
for Booboo and our relationship with him, and me getting helpful
information and answers to questions. If I asked about something he
wasn’t familiar with, such as an alternative treatment option,
Kevin had no problem accepting the limits of his knowledge and
expertise by responding with “I don’t know” …and then
qualifying that answer with, “I don’t have any knowledge or
experience with that form of treatment, so can’t advise on it.”
It was incredibly refreshing, and rare, to find a doctor willing to
admit he didn’t know something. Most doctors would give an opinion
anyway. Kevin just offered a couple of cautions and left it to me to
research more and make the final decision.
opinion and his differed on a few points, to which he always
responded, “We can disagree and still be friends.” That was my
absolute favorite thing that he would say. And he meant it. I know
that, because it was put to the test during Booboo’s final week
had prescribed a few medications for Booboo to help stabilize his
congestive heart failure and ease the pain of his spinal arthritis.
These medications helped Booboo physically, and yet they muddled all
traces of his personality. In addition, his appetite had declined
significantly, which made it even harder to get him to take his meds
on the prescribed schedule without having it turn into a battle of
give Booboo and me a break, I skipped a dosage on one of his meds.
Within a couple of hours, I noticed a slight return of his
personality. I then skipped the next one and he came back to us a bit
more. It didn’t take long for me to decide to drop more of his
meds. After a few days without the drugs, he did a
bow-stretch…something he hadn’t done in weeks, and a glimmer of
our old, loved friend came back for a bit. Getting that last glimpse
of his former self, however brief, was well worth any speeding up of
his decline that most likely took place.
Booboo’s next appointment with Kevin, I told him that Booboo had
been off his meds for a week and explained my reasons for
stopping them. This action had caused a worsening of fluid build up
in Booboo’s heart, which was a serious backslide of his physical
condition. Kevin sat on the floor and visibly struggled with the
situation. He looked from his left hand to his right, with one
representing his opinion and the other representing mine. He
concluded that we were both trying to do what was best for Booboo,
but each had different priorities. In the end, Kevin confirmed that
Booboo’s condition would continue to decline – with meds or
without. We came to a compromise on the medications and I agreed to
give Booboo the one he felt was most important.
any other doctor, I would have been scolded for not following his
“orders”… or I would have withheld information about my
actions, to avoid having to endure his judgment of my choice. Neither
one is helpful to the healing process – whether it’s physical
healing we’re striving for or emotional/spiritual healing. The
respect Kevin showed towards the needs of our emotional relationship
with Booboo, which toward the end overrode Booboo’s physical needs,
was something I had never experienced before from anyone in the
medical profession. True mutual respect.
final gift to our family, and especially to Booboo, was his
willingness to come to our house to do the euthanasia. Booboo was
able to spend his last day with us in the comfort of his home,
surrounded by the love of his family, until his last breath.
rest of the medical community needs to get off their high horse and
take a lesson. Care of the body, mind, and spirit requires true
mutual respect…and an acceptance that the doctor may not agree with
the path that needs to be chosen. And that’s okay.
Booboo approached his fifteenth birthday, his congestive heart
failure took a serious turn for the worse. Combining that problem
with his blindness, deafness, and advanced spinal arthritis, it
became clear that his time with us was wrapping up. If we let his
congestive heart failure run its course, his last moments on earth
would be spent gasping for breath and dying in a panic. Not an
acceptable scenario for someone so deeply loved.
been struggling with this decision for weeks. My biggest fear was the
possibility of euthanizing him too soon…before he was ready…before
we were ready. I talked to Chuck and our three grown children about
their feelings and concerns. We all came to the same conclusion. When
the time was right, we would know. If we had any doubts, then it
wasn’t time yet.
we want, and what we know is right, are often two very different
things. I wanted to be able to help Booboo get better, but as his
health continued to decline and all glimpses of his personality were
overwhelmed by his failing body, I soon had to face the fact that it
was time to let him go…for his sake, far more than for ours.The
rest of the family sadly agreed.
date and time were set. Our vet, Kevin, agreed to come to our house.
This was a true example of Kevin’s complete understanding of the
loving bond between humans and their animal companions. I am deeply
grateful that he was willing to do the euthanasia at our home, and I
know that Booboo was grateful as well. Booboo never liked going to the vet.
night before his last day, we had a picnic dinner with Booboo on our
living room floor, while we watched a movie together. It was our last
supper with him. A celebration of our time together and the start of
our goodbyes. Booboo’s appetite had waned significantly in the past
week. It was becoming quite a challenge to get him to eat at all. Our
daughter Carolyn, who lived in town, brought cheese and speck for the
picnic…which peaked Boo’s interest a bit.
chosen movie had a picture of a human brain in the shape of a dog on
the cover. “Wrong”
was about a man desperately searching for his lost dog. It was a very
strange movie, yet entirely appropriate for the situation. Booboo
cuddled on our laps and snacked with us here and there, as we all
basked in the moment.
night Booboo had trouble sleeping again, due to discomfort from his
troubled body. Although I was already pretty exhausted from disrupted
sleep during many previous nights, I was able to approach this one
differently. As our last night together, I would stay up with him for
as long as he needed me. A couple hours later, we were able to settle
back down to sleep.
Booboo’s last day, he was not left alone. I brought him with me to
work, so I could take care of a few tasks and then take the rest of
the day off. People were surprised when I explained that this was
Booboo’s last day. That he would be leaving us at 5pm. But then
they looked straight at him, petted him gently, and said their
goodbyes. We don’t always get the opportunity to say goodbye. When
it happens, it should be appreciated and treasured.
and I walked downtown a bit. Actually, I did the walking. His
blindness, deafness, and tendency to walk in compulsive circles made
it impossible for him to go on walks anymore. So I carried him. We
stopped by one of his favorite parks. I put him in the sand of the
volleyball court, which used to trigger an immediate need to dig…but
not anymore. He stood there confused. I gently picked him up and we
the next couple of hours, Booboo and I lay on the couch together,
with him on my chest, sharing the warmth of our love and saying our
wordless goodbyes. At about 4pm, Carolyn arrived and took over the
Boo cuddling. At 5pm, Chuck got home…and shortly after that Kevin
first injection was a general anesthetic to make Booboo unconscious.
As the drug took effect, we held him close and showered him with our
love. Booboo was then laid next to me on the couch, and Kevin gave
him the final injection to shut down his poor, tired body. A few
minutes later he was gone. His spirit released. No longer in pain.
sent a text to our out-of-town kids that said, “Hey, hey, Booboo!
Let’s go get us some pic-a-nic baskets.” Booboo was now free to
do just that.
child comes into the house crying. She has a scraped and bleeding
knee. She tells you what happened and how she got hurt. You answer
her questions and give her a hug. Then you walk away, leaving her
crying and bleeding, and go back to what you were doing.
you imagine doing this? As a mom?! That’s not the way most moms are
wired. It’s a mother’s job to make things better. Right? To take
care of things. Fix things. Get the bandaids, bring the kleenex,
solve the problems. Moms are not supposed to just walk away …
leaving their children still hurting … to fend for themselves …
heal their own wounds … solve their own problems … make their own
decisions … manage the consequences of their choices … learn to
take care of themselves … be motivated to prevent future injury by
changing their actions … okay, wait a minute. Those last few things
sounded important. Those are good things to learn.
my children in times of struggle or pain has been the hardest lesson
I’ve had to learn as a mother. All I ever wanted for my kids was
for them to be happy and healthy. And yet our most profound learning
and growth comes through our struggles, our challenges, our tough
decisions, and our physical and emotional pain. When parents step in
and help too early or too often, they rob their children of important
and often essential lessons.
we are pushed to our limits, we learn the most about ourselves and
the path we were meant to be on. When we think we can’t handle any
more, and then we do, we learn that we are more capable and have more
inner strength than we realized. When we keep pushing stubbornly in
one direction until things start getting worse, rather than better,
we can finally accept the need to switch paths. When we have trouble
managing our finances and money gets really tight, we learn what’s
really important to us and how little we actually need to get by.
complicating factor is that the help offered might be the wrong kind
of help. When trying to solve a problem, I typically put myself in
the other person’s shoes. I then figure out what kind of help would
better. But each person has his own insecurities, concerns, and
goals. The things that would make me feel more comfortable and secure
might not resolve the key problems for him/her…and might actually
aggravate his/her situation.
each other is an important part of family life. There are times when
we really do need a back to lean on, a shoulder to cry on, or a
cushion to fall on. And being able to help, to really make a
difference in another person’s life, is intensely rewarding. It’s
also important for kids to know how to ask for
help, and for their parents to realize how much courage that takes.
our kids ask, we really want to be able to say “yes”…and we do
that as often as we can. But there are times when “no” is the
most loving and helpful answer. I’m still working on learning that
is something humbling about taking something you already know how to
do and trying to learn a new way to do it. Sometimes this is forced
on us, due to an injury or other disability, and other times it is a
conscious choice…to expand our awareness, skills, and abilities.
had this experience before when I taught myself to knit left-handed.
I had decades of experience knitting right-handed, but as soon as I
turned my knitting around, I was suddenly a novice…again. I learned
patience and humility, and was reminded of the benefits of taking new
things slowly – adding to your expectations as the motions start to
feel more natural. As far as problems, mistakes, and frustrations go,
most of them resolve on their own with additional practice. As I’ve
regularly told my knitting students, we’ll just worry about the
problems that won’t go away.
I decided to kick off my shoes nearly two years ago (literally, and
for as long and as much as possible), I figured I would need to allow
time for my feet to toughen up, but overall I thought going barefoot
would be pretty straight forward. I mean, sheesh, I already knew how
to walk. I’ve been doing it since I was nine months old. (It’s
true. I was an early walker.) So how hard could it be to just kick
off my shoes?
it turns out that barefoot walking is not the same as shoe walking.
In fact, the only thing the two really have in common is that you are
upright and putting one foot in front of the other. Aside from that,
I can point out far more differences than similarities.
two biggest differences are stride length and how your forward foot
hits the ground. When wearing shoes, we learn to take long strides
and hit the ground with our heel first. When walking barefoot, your
stride is shorter and the ball of your foot is what comes in contact
with the ground first…your heel coming down last.
learned pretty quickly that walking barefoot was not just about
kicking off one’s shoes. I had to abandon my old ways of walking
and become a novice again. I found myself reading books and watching
videos to learn how to walk barefoot. As frustration and confidence
have taken their turns over the past couple of years of my
barefooting journey, I’ve had to tell myself the same things I
regularly tell my knitting students: Relax. You can do it. It’s
easy once you learn how. Find your natural rhythm and it will become
kicked in again recently when I kept getting early-stage blisters on
the balls of my feet, making it painful to walk barefoot. This has
been an ongoing challenge. Clearly this was a problem that wouldn’t
go away until I learned something new and changed how I was walking.
After a day or two of wallowing in my frustration and sore feet, I
took a deep breath and did some more research.
problems seem to be related to poor posture, over-striding, and horizontal friction
when the ball of my foot connects with the ground. (Thanks
to Steven Sashan of Xero Shoes for the helpful info on his website!)
So it’s time to take a couple of steps backwards and walk shorter
distances until the adjustments I need to make start feeling more
natural and become second nature.
we learn new things…sometimes more literally than others.
thought we would be firm. We thought we would be able to teach our
new puppy to sleep downstairs on his own. We are the humans. He is
the dog. That’s the way it’s supposed to be. Or so we thought.
bringing our new puppy home, we made up a bed for him in the kitchen.
Our three kids and I took turns sleeping near him or with him, in an
attempt to help him feel more comfortable in his new surroundings.
After a couple of nights of this, it was time to work on a more
long-term solution. My longing for a full night’s sleep was
becoming quite compelling. It was time to be firm. Kids in their own
bed, me in mine, and the puppy in his. I put the pup in his bed and
said good night.
didn’t take long for him to start crying. Cries of loneliness,
fear, and abandonment. He was barely 9 weeks old. Taken from his mom
sooner than either of them cared for. Separated from his sister at
the pet store…the only family bond he had left. And now he was in a
strange house with strangers, who have abandoned him to sleep alone,
in an empty room, through the dark, lonely night.
puppy seems to like being with us,
I thought while lying in bed listening to his cries. He’ll
get used to sleeping on his own. That will never happen if I give in
now. But he likes being held, cuddled, and comforted. He just wants
to be with us. To not feel so alone. He’s so small and so young.
Give it a bit longer and see if he settles down. Dum dee dum dee dum.
Nope. I can’t just let him cry. What if he wakes the kids? He’s
still getting to know us. Still adjusting to his strange, new home.
He sounds so sad! How long has he been crying? Only five minutes.
Yikes! This is going to be a long night.
went downstairs. He was SO happy to see me. What a welcome for
someone he just met a couple of days ago, and had only been apart
from for five minutes. I picked him up and took him to the couch. If
I sleep with him on the couch, it’s not like I’m giving in. The
couch is different from our bed. He’ll know that.
took a little while for him to settle down, but soon he was cuddled
next to me. What
if I roll over on him? He’s so darn little…just 1-1/2 pounds.
I’ll have to learn to be cautious. To be aware of him even when I’m
asleep, or when I’m just waking up. My mom-radar is already
switched on for the kids. I’ll just fine-tune it to include
soon happened for both of us, but it wasn’t a restful night for me.
The couch is not my preferred bed.
we approached bedtime on the next night, I wasn’t thrilled about
sleeping on the couch again. My fatigue was a growing issue that
needed addressing. And so, a decision was made. I needed a decent
night’s sleep. The way to achieve that was to give this young puppy
what he so desperately needed…comfort, contact, and a sense of
security. Booboo, who now finally had a name, would be sleeping with
us. And so it went for the next fifteen years.
says that this was the first reality-check for him regarding the dog.
The awareness that this puppy might end up being our dog, rather than
the kids’ dog. Years later when the kids grew up and moved out,
one-by-one, and didn’t take Booboo with them, his suspicions were
finally confirmed. I, on the other hand, knew from the beginning that
Booboo would be with me and Chuck for the distance. As much as he was
a family dog, the long-term bond was between Booboo and me.
Booboo settled in, we began teaching him things that were necessary
for us to get along well together. Things like doing his piddles and
poos outside or on the newspaper, not biting too hard when playing,
and not barking excessively. At the same time, we realized that he
was teaching us as well…bedtime for him was 9pm, don’t play too
rough, remember to fill his water dish, and take him along when we go
on an outing. As the years went by, it became difficult to say for
sure who was teaching whom. Knowledge and learning was happening both
ways. Did we teach him or did he teach us? Regardless of the
direction of the lesson, learning was definitely happening…and in
hindsight, it was I who benefited the most. Some of the lessons were
direct from Booboo to me, and yet many more were indirect, through
shared experiences and challenges that I would not have encountered
definite bond has evolved between dogs and humans. It got its start
some 50,000-ish years ago when dogs agreed to be the first
domesticated animal. When a dog joins a human family, he takes his
place within the pack and strives to achieve and maintain a strong,
positive relationship with his human companions. Dogs have learned to
trust, depend on, collaborate with, protect, and love their human
families. And just as each human has individual needs, quirks,
personality traits, and a unique perspective on life and its
situations, so do dogs. We can learn much from each other, if we take
the time to see the world through the other’s eyes.
have been washing my feet a lot lately. Every night, in fact. It has
become a ritual; a way of ending the day and preparing for my night’s
sleep. This is different from taking a bath or shower, where one’s
feet just happen to get clean in the process. Instead, this is
focused attention on just my feet, one at a time… gently, lovingly,
I wash, I get to know each foot a bit better. I rub the soap between
my toes, around my heel, and across the ball of my foot – which is
becoming increasingly smooth and leathery. I feel the muscles that
have grown stronger, now that they’re finally being used again,
providing the arch support as nature intended. I check for any minor
injuries and give those a bit of extra attention and care.
I wash my left foot, I always pause at the scar on my ankle bone.
It’s slightly over an inch long and at an angle that goes from my
heel to my instep. For me, this scar represents the epitome of human
arrogance. A physical manifestation of science and medicine believing
it can improve on nature.
scar sometimes makes me sad, sometimes angry, but mostly it makes me
determined. It reminds me how disconnected people can become from
nature’s design. How much we expect science, technology, and
“experts” to solve our problems… and the many new problems that
this path creates. How often we look for a new “fix” to an
existing problem, rather than letting go of the previous fix that created it.
faced with an incompatibility between nature and science (my foot and
shoes), the doctor told my Mom that nature was at fault and needed to
be altered. He could have concluded that there was something wrong
with my shoes, or even all shoes, but that’s not
what he was trained to do.
unspoken motto of modern medicine is, “When in doubt,
do something.” And often the more invasive the better,
because at least you’re taking action, you’re trying, you’re
doing your best to remedy the problem. Non-action makes doctors
uncomfortable. Just go to a doctor with a problem and say “no,
thanks” to all their drugs and procedures, and you’ll see what I
mean. Society has also been trained to feel uncomfortable with
inaction. “I have a problem. Aren’t you going to do something
to help fix it?!” We have lost our faith in nature, in the human
body’s ability to heal.
idea that either doing nothing or un-doing something is often the
best course of action is way too radical for most people to handle.
In a society where doing nothing or doing less is considered lazy,
non-productive, and shows a lack of caring, we often feel forced to
take action…even if such action doesn’t help or actually makes
the problem worse.
was the human creation that caused problems for my left foot? Shoes.
And the solution that science and medicine came up with to fix that
problem? Alter my ankle bone to fit the shoes better.
was nine or ten years old. Shoes regularly rubbed my left ankle bone,
making it sore. Going with the accepted course of action for the
period (the 1960’s), I was taken to a doctor to find a solution to
this problem. The doctor concluded that my left ankle bone was too
big, giving fault to my body rather than the shoes. If the bone was
shaved down a bit, making it smaller, shoes would no longer rub that
area – thus solving my problem. This is the course of action that
surgery itself was not traumatic for me. Reducing the size of my
ankle bone solved the specific problem I was having. Medical
intervention for physical problems was accepted in our family. It’s
only in hindsight that I’ve been bothered; when I look back on what
the decision meant, what it says about our way of thinking, our
disconnection with nature, our willingness to embrace significant
intervention rather than altering or letting go of previous human
also shows how the solution that seems obvious to me now, going
barefoot as much as possible, didn’t even occur to us as an option
back then. I have the same problem when I try to imagine how my life
would have been different if I had been homeschooled or unschooled,
as we did with our own children. Clearly that never would have
happened. It wasn’t even considered an option; not even a
flicker of the imagination. If we can’t even imagine it, it probably won't happen.
When walking barefoot, I find the reactions I get from people to be fascinating. Frequently a person will comment that they wish they could walk barefoot, but quickly conclude that they can't for a typical variety of reasons. Rather than concluding that they can't, however, if they instead asked, "What would it take for me to be able to walk barefoot?" the door to a barefoot future might start to open.