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 small 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.