Meals On Wheels of San Francisco

Baruch speaking at a MOWSF volunteer training.

Thoughts on Aging: Everyday shoes

Posted August 14, 2013

MOWSF Blog | Senior Issues

A few years ago I did an extravagant thing: I commissioned a pair of custom-made shoes. I chose the design, the material, the stitching… every little detail. These were going to be my “special” shoes, only to be worn on “special” occasions. But, for about the past two and a half years, these shoes have seen limited wear. It seems there are not a lot of “special’ events in my life anymore. What was I saving my shoes for?

A month or so ago I decided to wear these shoes on a normal work day. I found myself looking at them and noticing that after more than two years of owning them they were not broken in yet. Then I wondered what they would look like as they aged: How would they change from being stiff shoes into really comfortable shoes?

The more I pondered this, the more curious and eager I was to experience how my shoes were going to change over time. So, I decided they were now going to be my everyday shoes. Thus, it has become very important for me in this late part in my life to witness the natural aging process of my “special” shoes.

It wasn’t a big leap for my mind to think about “me” aging, not just my shoes. I am at the point in my senior-hood when I regularly experience changes in how my body and mind function. Not only do I mark these changes but I remark on them to myself because it is incredibly fascinating to experience one’s aging self. What will I look like in 10 years, in 20 years? What will this well-worn body look like… feel like… after a long life of use? Yes, I take care of my body (like I take care of my shoes). But I also “wear” my body every day, and this “wearing” causes my body to look very different now than it did 50 years ago.

Curiosity about ourselves is healthy. We should savor with curiosity the inevitable changing-through-aging of our body and mind. We have to learn to accept the natural aging process with some detachment, some humor and appreciation even. Being curious instead of worried or saddened might help us be at peace in becoming “worn in” and well-used. I’ve known people who even late in life lived as if they were “saving” their energy for some future “special” occasion… and then they died.

I want to live long enough and be healthy enough to age with my shoes and enjoy having my beautiful shoes grow old with me.

“Thoughts on Aging” is a column by Baruch Gould, MOWSF’s Manager of Volunteer Programs, on issues related to seniors and aging.