I’ve always loved being barefoot.
There is something about the feeling of pebbles burrowing into my heels. Blades of grass kissing the pads of my toes. The burning heat of concrete beneath the flat of my foot.
Even in winter, I shun socks—opting instead for flats (or even flip-flops) that allow my feet to be closer to the earth.
My distaste for big cumbersome boots, with thick heels and extra liner to keep out the elements is peculiar since I’m also someone who is chronically cold (and hates it).
I predicted I wasn’t alone in my love of naked feet, so I started asking around about how other women in my life feel when they are sans shoes.
These were some of the words they used: free, grounded, at home, lovely, a release, unrestrained, natural, in touch, raw, feminine.
What do we make of this?
Why do I crave the direct contact of sole to ground?
Why do so many other women?
The writing of Clarissa Pinkola Estes articulates some answer to this in her book Women Who Run With the Wolves. In her exploration of female archetypes, she discusses a crone archetype referred to as “the One Who Knows” or “La Que Sabe” from the Southwest.
Estes recounts a conversation with an “old witch from Rachos” who told her that “La Que Sabe had created women from a wrinkle on the sole of her divine foot” and that this “is why women are knowing creatures; they are made, in essence, of the skin of the sole, which feels everything.”
She continues saying, “This idea that the skin of the foot is sentient had the ring of a truth, for an acculturated Kiche tribeswoman once told me that she’d worn her first pair of shoes when she was twenty years old and was still not used to walking con los ojos vendados, with blindfolds on her feet.”
I mean, how perfect is that description?
The inner wisdom of this archetype makes sense to me when I consider all the treading done by the women before me—both literally and figuratively.
I now see the ground beneath me as a life-sustaining vein connecting me to the hearts of women across time and space.
I think of those who ran barefoot across farm fields. Those who repeatedly walk around a room attempting to lull their young to sleep. Those with feet marred by dust and mud, and those who drag their toes across the sand and let the water lap at their heels.
And because I see the ground as lifeline—I don’t want to lose touch with it. I want exposure. Direct connection.
Every stripped step is full of sensation and I am someone who loves to feel.
However, not all the women I spoke with felt this way. Two of them used “uncertain” and “tentative” to describe their experiences when they went shoeless.
I can understand those descriptors too—but from my perspective, that very uncertainty about what the next step might bring, or how it might physically feel, is what also allows me to be attentive and attuned to each moment.
After all, every footfall lands me in a new place. And in each new place I can find new perspective—if I’m looking, and ready to receive it.
I see the dirt caked on the bottom of my foot as a delicacy and the callouses and cracks as comforts.
For me, and I think for many other women, it comes down to this—my soles connect me to my soul.