I have been dancing for two-thirds of my life; since I was 5 years old and in kindergarten. Lots of wonderful things come from dancing. However, as is the case with almost everything, there are also some bad things. One of these bad things is the condition of my dancing feet. There is a considerable difference between the look and feel of the feet of someone who dances and someone who doesn’t. I was always ashamed of my feet, the bloodstained, cracked, and generally smelly nubs that completed my legs. I always covered them up, even when I went swimming. Unless I was alone in my room, a pair of socks, at least, were indispensable. It took 7 years for me to start to understand the beauty and necessity of bare feet.
At this time, I was 12 years old, and my cancer-diagnosed Granpa was in the hospital. I remember going to visit him once, and after a few minutes of meaningless chatter, a doctor came in to examine him. For part of the examination, the doctor opened a safety pin and poked him with the pin in various places on his body, including his feet, asking if he could feel it. He couldn’t. That got me thinking, ‘what if I couldn’t feel my feet? I wouldn’t be able to walk, dance, feel grass beneath my toes, or new cotton socks…’ the list went on and on.
When Granpa died, he was lying in bed, unable to move or feel at all. I knew from that point that I never wanted to be in that position, completely numb to the world, not able to feel anything. After his death, I started feeling like that often, as if he left behind a legacy of an enigmatic, senseless daze. Whenever I felt like that, numb, out of control, overwhelmed, unable to resist succumbing to pressure, I would take off my shoes and socks, if only for a brief moment, and walk around. Whether it be harsh rocks or soft sand, the feeling of something beneath me was enough to let me know that I was here and alive, and that the world wasn’t spinning so fast I couldn’t touch the ground.
Since then, I have been a strong believer in bare feet. They have become a sort of salvation for
me. I rarely wear shoes. I’ve learned to get over the condition of a dancer’s feet, of my feet, putting that aside for something more important, a feeling of safety and security. I believe in the grounding of feet. My feet keep me sane, in the moment, and give me belief in myself.