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This feels good I tell myself, as hot, sandy rocks pierce into the bottoms of my feet.

I’m full of shit.

I’ve taken to hiking barefoot. Or, at least hiking my way back barefoot. I find that it slows me way down, which is super important in many ways. I also do like it... sometimes.

I love being barefoot, with my feet on the earth. I used to hike almost exclusively barefoot when I was a kid, so I’m sure there’s some nostalgia there. Plus, something about it seems meaningful.

I was once at an ashram in Bali on a full moon. The monks there were hosting a ceremony. We had to wear white and take off our shoes, even though it was mostly outdoors and almost everything “indoors” in Bali is open air. They have very few walls.

In order to get to the pagoda where the ceremony was taking place, we had to walk through a series of rituals, from having sacred water poured on our heads while a monk chanted, entering a cave where we bowed and left offerings to various deities- Ganesh, Kuan Yin, Buddha; and we had to walk along a trail of stepping stones that began smooth and gradually, one after another, became bumpier and bumpier until it was quite jagged. This was supposed to represent the path to enlightenment and the road of trials.

While I’m hiking home barefoot, I’m reminded of Bali. I think of how I was planning to move there but I ended up here. Even though they are vastly different places, they're very, very similar in a lot of ways.

The hot, red, sparkly sand and jagged rocks become too unbearable in the 90 degree heat. I finally called mercy and decided to put my shoes on. I was disappointed that I couldn’t stay barefoot, but knew that I was emerging from shadier areas onto the trail that’s been in the full Arizona sun since the sun rose.

I put my dirty feet into my sun-dried, once-sweaty socks and popped my shoes on. As soon as I stood up and started walking, it was like angels singing. Ahhhhhh!

I practically started skipping and felt like I was gliding along the trail.

Fuck. Why did I do that to myself?

When my 92 year old grandma was on her deathbed, she didn’t want the doctor to give her Vicodin because she was afraid she’d get addicted.

We will suffer until our last breath to hold onto our ideologies.

Maybe the path to enlightenment isn’t about enduring pain because it makes us more holy, more spiritually “woke”, more “pure” or natural.

Maybe that just makes us an asshole. Because we’re fucking miserable.

Maybe the path to enlightenment is in allowing ourselves to be imperfect visions and versions of what “spiritual” even means.

Maybe our spiritual dogmas take us away from our deepest truths.

Maybe the holiest among us are the damnedest.

It’s ok to put your shoes on.


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