Writing Out Loud: Put Your Own Shoes On

By George Stahl

Today, Dec. 6, is set aside for celebration. It is National ‘Put On Your Own Shoes’ day. It is traditionally celebrated by parents who, after years of teaching and demonstrating to their children, reach the milestone of having the kids put on their own shoes and lace them up by themselves. It has to rank right up there with ‘Eat All of Your Vegetables’ day, and ‘Clean Up Your Own Room’ day, ‘Make Your Own Bed’ day, ‘Ride a Two-Wheeled Bike’ day, and eventually, ‘Get Your Own Job’ day.

It could also mean, in an ambiguous sort of way, to pull up your own boot straps and make your way through life on your own terms. That could be a less likable meaning, but it could fit. It could also mean that by putting on your own shoes you might just see how the next guy wears his Keds a little differently than you do. That doesn’t make him better or worse than you, just different. As long the shoes are comfortable for both of you, what does it matter?

It could also mean that by putting on your own shoes, you learn that others are faced with the same challenges and even problems as you. Or it may show you that others have problems just as you do, or maybe only slightly different from yours. For instance. You may not have a problem slipping your shoes on, but tying them is a challenge. The other guy, he can tie his laces, but it may take him a little longer to get the shoes on than it takes you. In the end though, you both have your shoes on your feet and they are laced tightly.

It could also mean that putting on your own shoes is just that. Putting on a simple pair of shoes. Nothing more, nothing less. No other meaning than putting on your shoes and lacing them up. Sometimes, it as simple as it sounds. The act, in itself, is nothing. It’s what we read into it that changes the meaning. Our first instinct is to react. According to the English Dictionary, the word ‘react’ means ‘To act in an opposing or contrary way.’ As a verb it means, ‘to oppose.’ Most of the time, we react quickly too. So, today could be a day that by putting on our own shoes, we won’t be so ready to react to someone else putting on theirs.

Sometimes putting on your shoes can even be a little humorous. For instance, putting on your shoes in the dark can be challenging for most of us. Is it the right shoe for the right foot? Are they both the same? Do the two make a pair, or is one black and one brown? Rather than getting frustrated, in this case putting on your own shoes could bring a smile or even a belly laugh. In this case, putting on your own shoes could be adding days to your life. No kidding! Studies by famous lab techs and experimental people have found that laughing adds longevity to your life. Humor is an essential part of happiness. Just like depression and anxiety can decrease life expectancy and quality, humor and the ability to laugh at yourself can add days, years or at least minutes to your life. So, celebrating ‘Put Your Own Shoes On’ day in the dark can get you laughing all the way to the ‘Look at me! I’m Healthy’ party down the street.

Then there is the idea that putting on your own shoes gives you a chance to look at yourself in a way that makes you realize, no matter who we are, we all put on our shoes one at a time. That is a sort of equalizing experience. You, me, the guy next door, and the guy living in the house on Pennsylvania Ave. (The butler, not the other guy) all put on our own shoes one at a time, and should be really thankful that we still can. Have a happy ‘Put On Your Own Shoes’ day, and remember, it’s okay to use a shoe horn if you need a helping hand.

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