Toe socks

Shut your eyes. Consider your toes for a moment.

Can you even do it? Or, like me, do you have trouble visualizing your toes? Or shrink from the very thought because you believe feet are ugly?

Take off your shoes and socks, right now. Have a good look at those toes.

They’re funny and small and knuckley. They’re strong and they’re delicate. Wiggle them around. Can you separate each one? Stretch and curl each one?

When is the last time you had a pedicure? Do you come home from work or shopping and soak your feet?

No? Well, what have your feet done to you to deserve such bad treatment?

Your feet are your connection to the earth. The place where your body joins to nature. What could be a more sacred place?

Your feet carry you. All of you, whether you are overweight or fragile, have bad posture or arthritic knees. Your feet bear it all.

One-quarter of all the bones in the human body are in the feet.

Your feet – all 26 bones, 33 joints and 100+ muscles, tendons and ligaments, in each one – balance you, propel you, lift you. They are more miraculous than a $500 pair of professional running shoes, and they do so much more than shoes, without charge, day after day.

One way to appreciate your feet and toes is to live with someone who’s had a stroke and has to learn to walk all over again. Watch how he has to relearn to use those fine bones and muscles in the ankles, foot and toes. Notice that it takes months for him to perfect this complex motion.

Mom thought feet were ugly, in particular her own feet. She once sent my sister Ann a photo of herself with the feet cut out.

So I grew up with that idea, Feet are ugly, and it came to pass that I thought my own feet were ugly.

They aren’t.

Tom has shown unwavering adoration of my feet, never failing to tell me that they are cute and pretty, and I finally started to believe him.

Then the final revelation came upon me: wearing toe socks.

Just the act of putting these socks on – one toe at a time, and slowly so that they don’t get tangled – makes you mindful of your toes. Each one of them takes on importance. Separated, swaddled, your toes get to have their own individual identity.

I swear that when I wear toe socks, I look at the world differently. I notice details. My toes wiggle to alert me to what’s going on in the environment. I think about little overlooked bits of the day.

Mindfulness is the first step in the dance of improvisation.

Today’s penny is a 2004, the first year plain-color toe socks became mainstream, according to Wikipedia.

By 2011, toe socks had even been worn in outer space, “notably by astronaut Sandra Magnus on the International Space Station during the STS-135 mission.”