Since the nineties I’ve been bemused to frankly unimpressed about how shoes have evolved , I can understand how businesses should roll with the needs of the consumers, but the trend for lighter, immediately comfortable, short-lived, disposable shoes. The glued-on soles instead of real stitching, the move away from leather to more lighter less durable synthetic material made in developing countries with dodgy employment practices, the inflationary prices of the shoes etc. Who drove this, the consumer or the companies, or both?
Just like I missed the Dotcom boom/bust, I was oblivious of these overall trends in shoes and used my trusty Docs everyday, they have performed reliably through the rainy season, the baking or humid summers, taking every pounding of each stride, each jump, countless impacts on all types of surfaces, the traditionally stitched leather stretching and contorting to the stresses of my feet. For over twenty years I paid scant attention to applying some balsam or bees wax on that breathable leather even though they desperately needed it. Sure I thought about it “Maybe I should…? Do I need to…?” but almost never.
Over the last ten to fifteen years the natural wear and tear began to appear - leather began to dry and crack, buckles elastics breaking, heel stitches splitting. Even then I still didn’t think about the “health” of my shoes - they were after all Dr Martens famous for lasting decades so I kept taking them for granted: “Oh, they’re fine” or “yeah I’ve had 20 years of good use from them I can just buy another pair…” Occasionally I’d boast about them when the conversation turned to the modern lifespan of shoes: “Guess how old these shoes are…etc etc.” but quickly forgot about following up on their care before days end. I took them for granted.
A few weeks ago when I finally took one pair to the original Dr Marten specialist shop. The same shop in Fortitude Valley, Brisbane (http://downesshoes.com.au) I had bought them from all those years ago (only because the buckle elastic broke) I got the rundown on their health. Despite my long-term habit of negligence, not appreciating what I had, it wasn’t too late for some of them. Reinforced heel joinings, reheated & reattached soles, new elastic buckle straps, repeated and regular applications of leather balsams were the diagnosis and treatment. One of them - my oldest pair I buried on “Boothill “years ago but my second oldest pair may just pull through.
“If you repair them and treat them right from now on they
could still easily give you another twenty years of reliable use.”
Leah the Downes Shoes shop owner who so obviously loved the shoes said. I was so glad that they were well made, beautifully crafted, simple, elegant and durable. The idea that if I looked after them from now on, despite my years of woeful abuse, that they would still perform day in day out for me for another twenty or, perhaps more years is amazing! They did everything they were supposed to do to - protect my feet and allow me to move comfortably and all I had to do was look after them! That's a reasonable deal. If they had been something complicated like my circulatory system or organs they would’ve packed it in a long time ago.
Many of us have this attitude of taking some of the basic necessities of life for granted. We follow our habitual preference toward mental and physical entropy, to not make changes to our negligent habits. I see it in myself, from friends , family, acquaintances and strangers; especially concerning our bodies, mobility, mental, physical, social, or even spiritual wellbeing. Some are onto it and do find the energy to learn and change, some make a few temporary changes, some leave it way too late, some truly don’t care or are in denial despite the obvious, some understand the risks but choose not to change their negligent ways. We all are a bit guilty of taking basic things for granted often until things start to breakdown then we expect a quick fix. We should reflect on our attitudes.
Author - Lee Chang Tye
Copyright - Relaxed Mind Tai Chi