Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Stories: Are We Listening - Conversations in the Shoe Store

I'm reminded and convicted often to notice people. Those right around me. Walking and living life in the very places I visit.

The stories around us are often ignored and undetected. To uncover these riches require time, patience, willingness, and can be uncomfortable.

Recently, I was in a shoe store, browsing among the multi-colored stickers indicating the additional savings. A diminutive woman picked up a pair of shoes I was holding in my hand. (Not the ones in my hand. That would be another story!)

"Those are VERY comfortable. I just tried them on and am purchasing them in another color."

A look of surprise crosses her face and then she responds.

"I have very strange feet. Nothing feels comfortable on them. I used to dance ballet for years." 

"Oh, I'm so sorry to hear that. Hopefully you will be able to find something that is comfortable."

"No, my dear. I wore high heels for years and years. Flats now hurt my feet, but I can no longer wear the heels. I danced and then I suffered an injury and had surgery on my leg. Ever since then, shoes are no longer comfortable. Don't get old, dear. Just stay young forever" 
  She goes on to pick up another pair I had pointed out. Onto her foot it goes.

"A long time ago I used to be a foot model. I wore a 4.5 size shoe. The older I became, the larger my foot became. Now I'm between a 6-7 and I have such a difficult time knowing what size I wear and what will fit and work. (Sigh) And my foot used to be so small." 

The conversation halted at this time. She moved on and my brain was racing with a million questions.

* Where did you live before you were in Texas? (I'm guessing Eastern Europe - beautiful accent).
* Tell me some of your favorite stories working as a shoe model.
* Did you teach dance?
* What were your favorite moments when you danced?
* How did life change for you when you were no longer able to dance?
* Did your heart ache?
* What other gifts and abilities were discovered when you could no longer dance?
* What do you look forward to right now?
* What makes you feel beautiful?
* How did you identity change or how did you struggle with identity when you could no longer dance?

Some of these might be intense. But don't we all want to be known? Perhaps not by a stranger in the shoe aisle. Yet, I wonder, why did she share these small details, if there isn't something within her that longed to be known?

Who do I need to see? Who do I need to be brave enough to ask questions of and wait to hear the stories? Who is around you?

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