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Shoes, Literal and Figurative

20140809_200711 First, I should note that I am not a shoe person.  I don’t like shopping for shoes, and while I love to wear brightly-coloured clothes, I go into panic mode when trying to figure out which shoes go with which clothes.  I’m also very, very cheap.  I used to think shoes were small and nobody would notice them (as opposed to, say, a dress), so I would never spend more than twenty dollars on them (ok, that was probably in the 80’s).  Anyway, I keep my shoes simple, boring, and sometimes even ugly: thus, these comfy black shoes.  Black goes with everything, right?
This summer I decided I had to branch out.  I needed some colour, and I needed to try shoes I would not normally wear.  So I bought these:
pink shoes
Before you start thinking this blog will be all about shoe makeovers, the new shoes are really just a metaphor for my need to branch out in a number of ways.  I like projects and challenges, so I’ve decided to take on what is to me the biggest challenge of all: to try to understand other people and (figuratively) walk in their shoes.
To be honest, other people baffle me.  Some I find mildly confusing or frustrating; others are complete mysteries; and still others make me want to run screaming into my house and lock the door, never again to emerge.  I would act on this impulse, except that I know I can’t.  As a writer and a mature human being, I need to at least try to understand others,  to live in their skin, to try to see the world from their point of view.  Every good writer understands her characters enough to make them living, breathing people who act and react in ways that make sense to the reader.  And many great thinkers and spiritual leaders teach a similar lesson, that understanding others is the key to forgiveness and peace (one of my favourites is from the prayer of St Francis of Assisi, which reads in part, “grant that I may not so much seek to . . . be understood, as to understand.”)
Thus, I am embarking on a year-long quest to understand others, hoping to become both a better writer and a better human being. I don’t expect to fully understand people when the year is over, but I’m open to whatever I discover. This blog is my way of documenting my progress as well as keeping myself committed and accountable to the quest. I hope you’ll be inspired (or at least entertained) by my journey!

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