They were not expensive work boots. At the time, they might as well have cost $1000 given how much money was not in my pocket. But because of the kindness of the shoe store owner, I walked out with them for the money I did have in my pocket. I appreciated his gesture not so much for the shoes, but for the fact he allowed me to keep my dignity as I poured out my recent tale of woe. Somehow he knew I had to pay something and he managed to make it happen. Charity without leaving that bad taste in my mouth.
When I found these old leather friends stuffed in a box in the garage, memories came flooding back. Memories of failure and rebirth. Some memories I could have done without. Some memories lifted my heart on this rainy day in April, 2008. It was 13 years ago these boots brought me back from the depression of really failing for the first time.
Failure should come to everyone at some point. I think to really feel alive, falling on hard times can give us a perspective that makes Life that much more precious. To not have any prospects or sure thing in the future certainly tested my intestinal fortitude to the max. It was a month or so after my first bike shop failed that I realized this.
Forty something, my business gone and a family I was still responsible for. My initial reaction was to withdraw. Climb inside myself and build barriers between myself and everyone who mattered. I felt like I was slipping away.
I hated how I felt. I hated how I treated those I loved. I was not mean. I just wasn't there. The longer it dragged on, the angrier I became. At myself. At the World. Life seemed such a waste of time. You pour your soul into something only to watch all that effort and passion disappear into the back of a discounter truck in the parking lot as someone else takes down your sign.
My anger finally peaked and I went to the shoe store. I went there not just because I needed new work boots. But rather the trip represented my first salvo against the crater deep depression I had fallen into. That first step out of the depths and into that bright light Life always emits but is sometimes hard to find.
So I had the boots now. Finding a job was the easy part. As it turned out I was right. I went back to pounding nails and for the next 3 years my boots faithfully carried out their part of the bargain and I carried out mine. Together we managed to avert total personal failure along with the business failure. And because of this bond between me and my worn out boots, I cannot bring myself to throw them away.
They are back in a box I hope my wife will not find. Packed away as another memento of my past that holds more meaning than almost anything else I have secreted away for future reminiscing.
Post is now entered in Scribbit's May "Write Away Contest"