I’ve been listening a lot to Dr. Jordan Peterson’s podcasts lately, including his Bible Series from last year. He often talks about being in the “zone” and how to achieve that state, but the way he talked about it – while engaging – never really helped me “enter” such a state of mind, or find ways to achieve it. In one of the first (I believe in the second or third) lectures, he mentioned something related to it that struck a chord.
When I started going barefoot, I was in the zone. The way he put it made me immediately think about the time when I started going barefoot and I realized that I was really in the zone then. Every part of me that I discovered in my “Who am I?” post was fully engaged in it. The nudist me was happy because here was another part of me that I could bare. The barefooter was just “born” so to speak. The solution finder was engaged trying to figure out where to try going barefoot next that would be sufficiently close to the boundaries of my comfort zone that I would actually do it. The speaker was engaged in conversation with people who expressed curiosity. The coward was perishing and the protector was uncovered. The curious me was engaged exploring the ground and all the associated new sensations on my feet in addition to watching how people reacted. The adventurous me was having a heyday. And the thinker was seeking and mulling over information about the lifestyle, weighing the dangers of being barefoot vs. the dangers of wearing shoes.
They say marriage requires one to grow (up) as a person. I must say I was a pretty miserable creature before marriage and I’m quite sure that I could grow from where I currently am to a place where I would call my current self miserable too. Going barefoot was a push against the abuse that I was unprepared to face; a way to confound the abuser and simultaneously to grow a spine. And the spine grew when the coward which poisoned it was slowly dying as the comfort zone got larger. It would be needed after the abuser regrouped and resumed the abuse. The incredible thing was that it worked!
The growth was small at first, but sufficient. First it was all about going barefoot in places I’ve never been barefoot to; places where I didn’t expect to see anyone I know, where I would not be expected to explain myself. Then places like the park, or around the yard, then stores, bakeries, cafes, etc. Finally, everywhere. Then most places with my wife. Then everywhere with my wife.
The abuse was coming back in stages. First it was nagging about putting my shoes back on. Sometimes I’d do it, other times I wouldn’t. Then it was about something unrelated. Sometimes it would be overwhelming, other times I could deal with it swiftly.
But alas, there have been consequences. Sometimes I defended this new sprout so fiercely I lashed out in the wrong direction. Never physically, but definitely in a hurtful manner. Sometimes even my children would get to me, something I never wanted. But it’s either that or a spineless father; I don’t know which is worse. I just hope that I am able to get to wherever the source of calm is within me so that I am always able to keep my cool.
Jordan Peterson gives two advice that I can use on this journey. First, I should watch the person I’m having trouble with like a hawk. That would be my wife. Second, I should become a beast in order to fight one.
In short, I became a barefooter in order to save my children from a broken home and a spineless father. It put me on the path of – well, the best word I can find for it is – redemption. The path of self knowledge and self discovery, and a path of personal growth beyond any measure I could achieve before, when all my efforts at improvement resulted in nothing in the long run.
And it was all in order to achieve the goal I laid out when I first wrote about why I chose a barefoot lifestyle:
I wanted three children and I wanted to provide them with the love that I never received as a child.