Going barefoot: a lesson in spirituality

Do you feel a connection to the very earth you inhabit? If you don’t, you may be experiencing a sense of emptiness, a fading of the soul if you will. As one of the many humble creatures that exist here, we can only feel whole when we embrace the nature around us. If you are uncertain if you suffer from this condition or not, you can discover yourself by following these simple instructions. First we need to determine the colour of your energy. Stand outside under the gaze of the sun and soak up its rays. Fill your lungs with the sweetness of the air and feel the softness of the breeze on you skin, until you drink in all of nature’s life-force. Drink in all this rubbish and then close your eyes. Then frantically rub them and focus on the darkness you see. It should erupt into colours, all the shades of energy that you just drank in and will be changed by your body to form your own personal tone. This colour, which is absolutely not caused by rubbing your eyes until you’re dizzy, is your personal energy. If it is blue or green, then you have a strong connection to mother nature. Purple or yellow means you have a long way to go before you can begin to heal your soul. If it’s red then you should probably go consult your local doctor.


I was like you once. My senses dulled to the glory of this earth and my soul a transparent shell of what it should be. I could not shake the aching depression that the emptiness left me until I embraced life in all its forms. It was then I truly became alive and so can you. All you have to do is listen to my struggles and learn to achieve the same as I have. It is crucial that you only listen to me. Don’t listen to anyone else. I’m serious. If you do, you could jeopardise your progress if anybody poisons the tranquility of your mind with criticism or worse, doubt.


Here I will describe the first step. Remove your shoes and socks. Lay your feet atop the ground and walk. Walk through your home, walk into your garden. Walk out into the world!


One day on my way to school it rained heavier than it had ever done before and even my umbrella couldn’t entirely protect me from the overcast onslaught. When I got to class, each step erupted into a squelching squeak from my soaking shoes. It was this scenario that finally urged me into action and you will need to find your own. It was unbelievably uncomfortable in class. If I did as much as cross my legs my shoes would impersonate a troupe of clowns. I removed my shoes and socks and balanced them on top of the radiator in class to dry. I immediately noticed the difference. I scrunched my toes into the carpet, felt them dry and the skin cry out in painful bliss as the fabric relentlessly scratched. It didn’t matter that everyone else stared at me. It didn’t matter that the teacher asked me in private whether or not I wanted to get in touch with social services. I was in a whole other realm at that point. I had discovered the dusty gateway to earthly enlightenment. I had become one with nature.


Having the direct connection to the ground was key. My skin against dirt in holy union. I started small at first, wandering my house barefoot while everyone else donned their slippers. They sought to return me to their ranks but I had seen, no, felt the truth. From the brash carpet, to the unforgiving kitchen tiles, to the tranquil wooden floorboards, my feet soaked in every natural energy of the house, each with their own individual texture. It wouldn’t matter if it were summer or winter, I’d emerge from my bedroom each morning a proudly plant my naked feet on the ground and stride through the house with added vigour. On Christmas morning, while my family would be snuggled up together in their pyjamas, onesies and slippers, I would be standing apart fully dressed with my jeans rolled up to my knees like a wading fisherman, scrunching my freezing toes into the carpet. Whenever I am home I do this, much to dismay of others.


But being indoors wasn’t enough. There was too much artificial presence between my feet and the earth. Outdoors was where I needed to be. I am an oak tree and without space, my roots would not be able to flourish. So, I would often walk barefoot locally. Picking up the weekly shopping, popping down to the post office or simply coming out to greet a neighbour; in each case I revelled in the comfort and joy of feeling the dirt beneath my toes. The world is my crystal garden and I am but one of it’s many humble creatures that wander amongst its fauna.


This path toward enlightenment was not entirely lacking in turbulence however. There are always those who question the peace and tranquility that one has with nature. In Yokohama, friends would cry out in disbelief and protest as I wandered the halls of the dormitory, littered with the corpses of fallen cicadas that I would occasionally tread on. They’d hang their heads as I walked outside, making distance with me to avoid association. Kara and Svetlana openly refused to enter convenience stores with me so long as my naked feet offended the delicate dispositions of the people around me. One afternoon on my way to the supermarket I bumped into another from the dormitory, shopping bags in tow, wearing pyjamas and flip flops out in public. Finally another who can get past the social stigma. Who cares if the Japanese public looked on in horror at the shoeless man chatting with the woman who hadn’t dressed yet. We were free of all anxiety. Nothing feels so comfortable as the air on your skin and the stone beneath your feet.


This is the crucial second step. Stop caring about what others think. If you feel your link with your earthly energy, then continue to pursue it. Relish the joy of being one of the world’s peaceful creatures!


There are some dangers however. I always wash my feet whenever I return home and this is very important to maintain good health. Not only that, watching where you go can be difficult; watch out for shards of broken glass, jagged rocks or people who like to spit. Do not trust damp patches on the floor. Do not go out in the snow unless you seek frostbite. Love your feet and protect them!


For a time I was not so careful. In capoeira training, my feet would slam hard against the floor with every leap, kick or dodge and the blisters followed shortly. Rather than allow my feet to heal, I continued on. More emerged across my soles. A few months later and the blood blisters joined them, which is as delightful as it sounds. After that rather than rest, it made more sense to allow the  secondary blood blisters to swallow the previous injuries first before I looked into recovery. But through this something terrible happened. The skin hardened and my feet became two slabs of aching rock. I could no longer feel the earth beneath me as I had done before. Years of stamping the floor in capoeira, and walking across hot concrete outdoors had desensitised my feet. There was no more pain but no more life either. My connection to nature’s energy stream had been cut.


This leads me to the final step you must all consider. Drink deeply of nature’s energy, and feel blessed to know it’s warmth seep into your toes. But do not get drunk on it’s  holy nectar, or risk never again finding the path to true enlightenment.

For those of you who still don’t believe, remember to look on at those kind souls who radiate joy with every bare step. They glow red with passion, or sometimes with the minor injury of blood blisters. Pity cobblers, who cannot know this glory and ignore critics, who simply cannot understand. Praise be to this fine Earth. Go forth and know, just how comfortable it is to walk barefoot. Praise be.


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