Thursday, July 19, 2018

These Boots

These boots are my favorite pair of footwear. They may not be much to look at, but they sure mean something to me. But first, let me tell you about a frog.

There is a fable about a boiling frog which I am sure you’ve heard. The basic idea is that if you put a frog into boiling water, it will immediately jump out but if you put it in tepid water and very slowly adjust the heat it will continue to adapt to its new condition until the water comes to a boil and you now have a delicious snack.

Before you go try this at home, sadist, you should know that it isn’t true. You’ll have to kill your frogs the old-fashioned way, by shoving firecrackers in their mouths.

The fable is often used as a metaphor for psychological adaptation. If your life circumstances were to suddenly change for the worse, you would take notice and probably be pretty angry/upset/whatever. But, if they gradually deteriorate, we tend to adapt to each level of discomfort and ultimately find ourselves in a position where we ask “how did I get here?”

I asked myself that question a year ago, while sitting in a doctor’s office at my girlfriend’s request to get a prescription for compression socks. Because nobody knows fashion like doctors.
How DID I get there? Over the past couple of years my legs and feet had become very swollen, so much so that I hadn’t worn any of my three pairs of cowboy boots in over a year. Just a few years ago I would wear them every day, they were versatile for the road and extremely comfortable. Then one day things began to change, the boots felt tight but I forced them on. Then putting them on became harder and harder, I even pulled so hard on the straps one day that I broke one. I started wearing other, easier shoes, more often. Living in California, flip flops were an easy choice for most events. You adapt. Besides, cowboy boots are too hot for that weather anyway. Then I started having trouble bending over and crossing my legs, you know that move that is kinda essential to putting on and tying shoes? No worries, laceless shoes are more practical for air travel anyway… Until you can’t squeeze your foot into them.

So a year ago, right around the point when the doctor asked me if my legs “leaked” (they can do that?) I decided prescription socks was my boiling water. I started working on a few things, doing what I could, when I could, and got those boots out of storage as a goal. A few months later, I was able to bend more comfortably and about six months later and I was able to put my boots on without help.

I don’t wear them every day now, but each time I put them on they make me smile.

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