Footwear Industrial Complex
Editor’s note: For the past five years, Crash Barry has pursued the neo-homesteading lifestyle in eastern Oxford County. This is the ninth of a dozen essays about his attempts to live closer to nature.
All the bad decisions I’ve ever made have occurred while wearing shoes.
Conversely, I’m most happy and content while barefoot. When my soles and toes mingle with the Goddess’ green grass and brown mud, I’m connecting with nature. Electrically speaking, I’m simultaneously grounding myself and being recharged by the power of the planet, getting in touch with the essence and energy I need to function amid the chaos of modernity. Wearing shoes on a regular basis would undoubtedly interrupt my flow and trigger lunatic episodes.
The corporatists, and their footwear-loving managers, have created a realm too dangerous and filthy for bare feet. Pavement and tar are no friend to the foot or toe. Nowadays, American human existence practically requires the donning of socks and shoes in the morn and the removal of the same at night, when the masses un-sheath their tired dogs, fungus-ed, cracked and sore, in urgent need of touch, tug and massage.
The working-shoed are desperate because the natural rhythm and restoration of earthwalking so crucial to bipeds have been eliminated. All our reset buttons, located on our soles, have been cushioned into uselessness by the weave of sock and the rubber and leather encasements of workboot, loafer and clog. Even worse is when a poor foot is tortured for days and nights in heels or forced into narrow-toed, hellish bindings designed by sadists and marketed by Big Fashion with no regard to the wheel health of their chic customers.
It’s all part of the Great Distract-a-thon: Keep the slaves fat and comfortable enough so they don’t notice how distant nature has become. Hypnotize and zombify mortals with touch screens so they turn blind to the ecosystem around them. Manipulate and inculcate with deceitful artifice in order to immunize humanity against the wondrous real world, where happiness isn’t bought or sold, and rejuvenation is born from bare feet dancing with dirt.
Alas, in this current life matrix, it’s not easy to throw off the oppressive yoke of the shoed paradigm. For most folks, a substantive shift in work and lifestyle would be required. Big Shoe banks on the human fear of dramatic change to keep a complacent society addicted to the wares pushed by boot-lickers and cobblers.
Those who manage to shed the shackles of shoes and remain in the general population are often thwarted by rules and regulations requiring adherence to a discriminatory doctrine. The signs are everywhere: SHIRT AND SHOES REQUIRED; NO SHIRT, NO SHOES, NO SERVICE.
Of course, going barefoot in nature, especially if walking distracted, has its own inherent dangers. Being “in my head” rather than “in my feet” is hazardous to the health of my soles. This spring and early summer I would walk the land, deep in thought, pondering the finishing touches to my film, Sex, Drugs and Blueberries. The only way to distract my noggin from work was to stray from the paths and wander into the woodlands, where my constant attention was necessary to prevent stepping on sharp sticks and stones.
Whenever mindlessly strolling on familiar paths, however, my brain would drift and inevitably I’d step on an acorn, rock or sapling stump. I didn’t listen, though, to these painful hints to be in the moment. Growing more and more involved in work, I continued to walk unmindfully. And the messages grew louder and louder. First was a nasty cut on my right foot. Then a painful puncture to my right sole. Then I half-impaled my right foot again on a steel grounding rod for an electric fence (hidden by grass but known by me) during a stumble that also resulted in a broken second toe.
Lesson learned. Until the film was done, and the open wounds healed, I consented to being shoed. (There are other occasions when I also feel it’s appropriate to wear shoes, mostly due to crowds and/or sanitary conditions. And in northern climes, muck boots are appropriate for use during the coldest months.)
Finally, in July, the shoes came off and, after a brief period of readjustment, I absorbed and welcomed a reconnection to the Earth. Overjoyed, like a dairy cow released from a long winter locked in a barn, I frolicked in the pasture and forest. Walking was once again a podiatry pleasure. The grass was silk. The pine needles were satin. And I was alive and aware and grateful.
Correction: In last month’s column about the New Prohibitionists, lawmakers and Corporate Cannabis flacks intent on destroying Maine’s locally owned marijuana industry, I made an error. Contrary to what I wrote, the use of medical marijuana in Maine hospitals will remain illegal, thanks to late-session legislative madness triggered by state Senator (and D.A.R.E. lackey) Scott Cyrway and by the non-profit capitalists of the Maine Hospital Association.
Crash Barry and Dave Gutter will be appearing at the world premiere of their film Sex, Drugs and Blueberries at the Camden Opera House on September 26.