Walking Barefoot and Remembering

I wrote a little over a year ago about my rediscovery of going barefoot, and how I discovered it helps to keep me connected and open to Mother Earth. Life flows when I am in touch with the Earth, and stops when I cut myself off.

A year on, and I am still suffering from the practical point of how to keep my feet warm enough. Wearing socks around the house seems to be a good compromise for me, but except on rare occasions I have been unable to go barefoot outside. Until last week.

The sandy beaches of Northumberland called to me, and I took my shoes off. A wonderful feeling. I stood in the sea, letting the waves run around my ankles, and had a huge feeling of knowing I had been there before. In that place on Bamburgh beach, hundreds of years ago. I looked out and knew the place, knew it was right that I had returned. Thanks to the protection of the Farne Islands, and Lindisfarne in particular, it had changed less with the passing of time than many other beaches to the South, although I think the castle and certainly the lighthouse had been built since. I knew then, if I hadn’t fully known it before, that it is time for me to start remembering who I was in previous lives so that I truly know who I am now and what I am here to do.

There have been a number of aspects to this remembering and reconnecting, but this was the first that really spoke to me so I’m writing about it first. More may follow as it feels appropriate. Ultimately my aim in remembering past lives is to know the lessons I wished to learn from them, so that I may fulfil my purpose in this life. I have long felt that this life will be my last. As part of this, I have found it interesting to realise how my remembering that area of Northumberland makes sense for several of my interests – a fascination with eighth and ninth century English history, a draw towards Celtic parts of Britain and their later history and myths, and particularly Celtic writing and knot work such as forms my Sorrel leaf image. I have also had a huge amount of discomfort towards Viking and Anglo Saxon history of the same period…

Bamburgh beach felt like somewhere I had been pleased to reach, having lived elsewhere and travelled East to greet the sea. A pilgrimage possibly, for which reaching the beach was an achievement but not the end of the journey. It reminded me of my own wish to walk the ‘Wainwrights’ in Cumbria.

Later in the week I was barefoot on another beach less than five miles away, and was amazed I had none of the same feelings of recognition. Lovely beach, almost identical sand and waves, but not remotely familiar to me.

My other discovery however was finding that I could carry M for miles in the carrier, barefoot along the beach or in the sea, with far more ease than I normally carried her with my shoes on. We were part of the same Earth that I was connecting with, who supported us fully and completely. She was part of me, and we were both part of the Earth.

Going Barefoot

As I child I hardly ever wore shoes in summer, being happy to walk on almost any surface in bare feet. I don’t remember there being much broken glass or other dangers where we lived, and I certainly never cut my foot or got a thorn in it. Twisting ankles I did frequently in shoes, but looking back I can’t ever remember doing that in bare feet either.

Then at some point in my late teens, my feet got soft. Gradually shoes became the norm until I found I never went completely barefoot except on the hottest days, and even then only on rare occasions. Mostly I wore socks indoors, slipping shoes on and off as necessary like for cooking, or going into the garden, or more recently carrying M up or down the stairs.

I have a pair of very comfortable, rather worn out, black lace-up shoes that are almost like slippers. I wear them around the house and for driving or general errands. In recent weeks M has liked to find things she can bring us to be helpful; my shoes are the number one item. I don’t always want them on, but have found it easier to do so than get her to understand why I am rejecting her offering of a shoe. And if they won’t do, she will bring me trainers and then boots… This is despite her preferring to be barefoot herself.

However, this week I have been feeling very disconnected and at odds with everything around me. Nothing seemed to quite flow right, and I seemed to be trying to swim upstream in everything I did. My door design didn’t want to come out right. The tree quilt presented me with unexpected problems I couldn’t immediately solve. I put in an order online, and then later realised I’d missed something off. I accepted goods which weren’t right and I should have sent back before wearing. After nearly two days of not only struggling but starting to feel incapable, M was picking up my bad mood. We went into the garden, and missed the postman. We had lunch, then after I didn’t seem to be able to manage anything else, a walk.

Finally, late afternoon, I decided I didn’t want to be pushed around or play her game any more, so I refused to put my shoes back on and went barefoot. Within an hour I was feeling better. By the end of the day the world was back to rights again, with my door design errors corrected. I was grounded, connected to the Earth once more. And shocked by how a simple thing could have made such a difference.

It brings me an interesting conundrum, however. If synthetic rubber soles on my shoes cause me this many problems, where is the line? Does wearing shoes cause the disconnect, not allowing my feet to move and flex freely, or is it the rubber insulation – which is also under some of our inherited carpets? And how far can one reasonably go to living barefoot in this modern age, in our northern climate? I don’t believe, as some suggest, that shoes by themselves cause health problems, or even cause ingrown toenails, hammer toes or bunions no matter how badly they fit. Foot reading will tell you how all these things indicate what is going on with the person at a soul level; if they improve when the person goes barefoot, well the person may well have become more grounded, secure, in touch with what they need in their life, and thus corrected the underlying problem.

So I am now doing whatever I can barefoot again. I hope to rebuild the strength in my feet, and regain the ability to walk outdoors on rough surfaces without pain or damage to myself. It may take a few months, or even years before I can really embrace being barefoot, but this week’s experiences have shown it is worth doing. Meanwhile I shall continue to smile sweetly when people point out that M has bare feet, because she’s the one with some sense.

Now I just have one small problem. Can anyone suggest how I can keep my bare feet warm?