Once upon a time, I had a pair of boots.
I didn’t ask for these boots. They came to me unsolicited, as a Christmas present from someone I used to know. They were hideously ugly, the kind of thing that some people think are sexy and that everyone else rolls their eyes at. They were essentially studded black leather hip waders with pointy toes and stiletto heels.
They also did not fit me — at all. The toe boxes were narrow and uncomfortable — all the more so because I had soft tissue damage on the outsides of both 5th toes from wearing high-heeled shoes in offices. The heels were dangerously unstable, reminiscent of a heel I had broken on an escalator on a trip to Toronto in the 1980s. The thing that made this “gift” hurt the most, though, was that it was impossible for me to zip them up.
Now imagine that the gift-giver is sitting across the room from you, and tells you that the boots will fit if you just lose some weight.
That was it for me. The boots, and the giver of the boots, were now The Enemy. I just sat there, outraged and numb, fighting tears. Christmas was ruined. I had no incentive to follow the “just lose some weight” suggestion, none at all, and in retrospect that may have been when I stopped trying to keep up with an exercise regime and stopped watching what I ate, because it would never be enough.
It took a long time to come back from that punch to the gut, close to a decade. In a different place and time I got back into a more healthy groove and lost a lot of weight. The reason the boots came to mind this morning is that I was out skiing yesterday and worked those courageous legs as hard as I could on a three-kilometre cross-country course. I’m sore all over but the soreness is all mine, done for me and not for someone else.
What happened to the ugly boots, you may ask?
Oh, I gave them away. I dropped them off at a thrift store staffed by sweet little old ladies. I presume that once they stopped giggling and rolling their eyes, they put them out on the shelf with the grungy old running shoes and green vinyl pumps, with a hand-written $10.00 price tag threaded through one of the zipper pulls.
Uncluttering experts like Brooks Palmer and Marie Kondo tell us that the things around us should bring us joy. I definitely got my daily minimum requirement of joy when I got rid of those damn boots, and 16 years later I’m still giggling about it.