The Benefits of a Barefoot Career

I’m turning fifty this year, and I have had, thank the non-denominational deity or natural selection theory of your choice, had very few health problems.  One I have had, however, is feet.  Everybody’s got a pair (well most of us do, at least), and after about forty years of wearing shoes on mine, I learned something: they hurt.

I have, arguably, the flattest feet in the free world.  Consequently, wearing shoes for years and years gave me very bad bunions.  I had surgery on one, then, finally, the other.  The surgery was easy—I watched the first one, wide awake…there was some sawing and drilling—and I had a fantastic surgeon.  I had the benefit of watching her do about 30 of these “chevron” surgeries before I gave her the okay.  The recovery hurt a lot, and the physical therapy to get my range of motion back was even more painful…  In short, I decided to never need surgery again.  I asked my surgeon what I could do, and she gave me a prescription for shoe inserts, then said: “If you really want to prevent them recurring, don’t wear shoes.”  I questioned her on this, and there is apparently a lot of evidence that unshod peoples do not develop bunions…  Wow!

So, though this was not my goal in life, I have found an “unshod” career.  I write.  Unfortunately, this is also a sedentary career, so I have also cultivated unshod hobbies: I sail, I snorkel, I play RPG’s.  I don’t count drinking coffee or alcohol as hobbies, but those also do not require footwear, so I’m all over them both!  I also do a lot of boat maintenance, and unless it’s absolutely necessary… you guessed it: Barefoot!   We do, however, enjoy long walks (long, like 5-7 miles) and I wear shoes for those…ouch.  Seems that even runners are going bare these days, however…  Check out this article on NPR on Barefoot running.   I have not gone that far yet, but maybe I will.

And after three years, my feet have never felt better!

The bad news: people in public expect you to wear shoes.  That seems silly to me now, especially since most public places are either paved, carpeted or have some type of smooth surface.  I also really take exception to those signs “No Shoes, No Shirt, No Service”!  Just once, I would like to walk in wearing a shirt and shoes—ONLY a shirt and shoes—and ask for a hamburger.

So, convention season is coming up, and I’ll be going to several, but if you see me standing behind a booth, you can bet your Berkenstocks that I’m naked below the ankle!


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