There are some things in life I just do not understand. One of the great mysteries in my life is how does someone lose a shoe? I see discarded shoes alongside the road all the time while I am driving. It really is a bizarre and commonplace sight for me … and I just don’t get it.
It’s always just one shoe at a time – never pairs of shoes – and I can never imagine a logical situation in which someone would lose a single shoe alongside the road, or really anywhere for that matter, but especially on the shoulder of a road in the middle of rural upstate New York. What was that person doing and how could they possibly have not noticed such an important article of clothing was no longer attached to their body? It is not like I’m talking about a scarf or anything that could just blow away. Maybe someone was driving along with their foot out the window, a gust of wind knocked their shoe off, and they were like … to hell with it, I’ve gone too far now and there’s a Payless up ahead. Or maybe someone was hitchhiking and they got picked up by a serial killer who always leaves a shoe behind as a statement. I don’t know.
I was driving to work the other day and I saw a sandal in the middle of Norwich’s main street. It left me wondering, did someone lose it while they were crossing the street and just didn’t notice they were missing a shoe. It’s not like North Main Street is a freeway or anything, they could have gone back and gotten it. Maybe some people just carry a spare set of footwear with them wherever they go and when a sandal falls out of their pocket they just don’t notice. I mean, what kind of excursion are people on which only requires one shoe? Unless that person only has one foot, which of course makes perfect sense. But even so, why bring the extra shoe along in the first place if the plan is just to throw it into the street.
We all lose things in life. In many ways, life is all about loss since every facet of it truly is transitory. It’s definitely a prevalent theme. I haven’t been around all that long, but even so, I have still lost many things over the years. From things as superficial as a raincoat in kindergarten (man my ma was sore with me for that one), to people and loved ones, like a beloved dog and all of my grandparents. And while some of those examples are far more serious in nature, the sense of loss was there for all of them … to varying degrees, of course. I handled each loss in a different way (the raincoat I lied through my teeth about, but mothers always know). With my dog, I kind of just ignored it and went on with my life … what could I do. But it haunted me for a time, for years I frequently had reoccurring dreams about her. Losing her changed me. Now when I am petting my current dogs I incessantly think about how their time on this Earth is limited. Figuring out how best to handle loss is not something I have mastered. I’ve broken up with girls and then pine for them for years. I guess coming to terms with the fact that everything ends is just something we all have to do soon or a later.
Still, I wonder if those unfortunate souls who lose a shoe in traffic experience the five stages of grief when faced with the debilitating and enigmatic absence of a lone piece of footwear. I imagine it goes something like this … 1) Denial: “It can’t be gone! It’s here somewhere I know it!” 2) Anger: “Who is responsible for this!?” 3) Bargaining: “Please, dear Lord, return my shoe.” 4) Depression: “Without my shoe, I can’t go on.” 5) Acceptance: “I have come to terms with my loss … and bought a new pair of shoes.”
A lot of things in life though are not so easily replaced, like grandparents for instance, so maybe losing a shoe is actually a good place to start learning an important life lesson by experiencing loss and testing our mettle.