29 February 2012

Magic Boots

On this Leap Day, I wish to offer you some boots.  Not just any old boots, but ones with lift, oomph and a surprising spring in their step. 

I once owned such a pair. 

It was a time when my fitness was, shall we say, less than ideal.  It was a pain to walk up hills, or let’s face it, walk pretty much anywhere.  (You can guess from the less than balletic proportions of the legs in this photo that any device to assist forward propulsion will have been a boon.)

And then I bought my magic boots.

A pair that were very cheaply priced and bog-standard basic, whenever they were on my feet, they surged power through my legs.  They pushed, they reassured, they encouraged me over new terrain, away from the straight and narrow, and even up inclines.   On an annual visit to the Alpujarras in Spain, they enticed me to stand on ancient stone threshing floors, to wander in almond groves, to walk through soft green grasses of varying hues, to climb and lie in gnarled olive trees. 

Those boots were the business.

One day I went to a tiny hamlet along the Guadalfeo River.  By no means a wide river (a creek in North American terms) it was nonetheless February and the water was running swiftly.  I spotted a patch in the sun on the other side and wished to cross over.  So as not to get my special boots wet, I took them off, laced them together with the socks stuffed inside, and threw them across. 

It was no distance at all. 

And yet, I did one of those ridiculous girly throws, when the trajectory of the arm flails skyward, instead of retaining any idea of the perpendicular. 

And so my boots formed a looping arc in the air and plopped down, right into the centre of the river whose currents went to work.   Though the water was only about ankle or calf deep, the boots did not sink, but floated off downstream.

I tried to race after them, but was impeded by the numerous pebbles and stones of the riverbed.  And the boots – the bow of their joined laces still visible - never stopped, never snagged themselves on any rocks, but carried merrily on, borne away by the glinting river.

And suddenly, ping, a deep understanding in every cell of my body came like a voice from the depths: It’s not about the boots!   The magic isn’t in the boots! 

I needed a river to teach me that I had become fixated on a quality that was not exclusive to my boots but, in fact, was all around - if I simply chose to open my eyes and see.

And so, for Leap Day, I wish you, too, a pair of magic boots that you can use. 

Then lose.

1 comment:

  1. Love this story Katie I wish I had written it! Really super thank you x