One of my favorite aspects of being barefoot is the level of awareness I attain. Opening up whole new levels of input on the soles of my feet not only helps me to move well but puts me in touch with reality in a new way.
Being barefoot on the sidewalks helps me to be aware of how shod we are as a society. Our infrastructure extends our collective footprint far beyond the extent of individuals. Wearing shoes can hide me in "comfortable danger." It helps me to accept things as they are without question while needing to protect myself from the dangerous world of our own creation. Being barefoot puts me in touch with a reality that extends beyond our constructs and enables me to walk and work for peace. I am sensitized to the world around me and reminded of my call to peacemaking.
Walking barefoot on Seattle sidewalks doesn't always feel easy, but I'm resolved to be open to each step as an opportunity to learn. Instead of saying, "That hurts!" I say, "I can handle all the information." I am aware. I'm learning. I'm learning to listen with my soles and my soul. I'm learning to do justly, love mercy and walk humbly. I'm learning to bring good news with strength and sensitivity. I'm learning to be aware of the effect our personal and imperial shoes have on our psyches and our environment, and I'm learning to tread lightly. It really has taken me the physical practice of being barefoot to practice this kind of awareness, and I highly recommend it to everyone. Being barefoot is a whole-being practice of awareness, not for the faint of heart or the faint of sole.