Like many who spent the last few years doing virtually everything virtually, I became accustomed to living in lounge pants and slippers. Even now, my wardrobe, not to mention my fashion sense, is stunted — as is my ability to care about such things.
Feeling entirely justified blaming my disheveled state on the global pandemic, I was only mildly bothered recently when I realized I was wearing my slippers — bedroom, not ballet — out to dinner with a good friend. Sporting slippers in public is a thing, but I think it only counts when you do it on purpose, with intention and self-awareness. So to be clear, I was not doing the thing.
Pretty quickly I gave myself a free pass on the glaring question of how someone so dedicated to mindfulness could be that oblivious to something so obvious. (phone calls, keys, texts, dogs, news … all the things.)
While that could have been the end of the story, the experience stayed with me, with my slippers whispering musings that made me smile for weeks after. Here are a handful just for fun.
Laughter IS great medicine!
Everything is not always as it seems. It’s amazing how much like shoes slippers can feel – how like truth misperception can seem. When first spying slippers on my out-to-dinner feet, my mind refused to believe it. It just did not compute. It was a reminder that feeling true and being true are not always the same thing.
If I’m taking myself more seriously or life more personally than I would if I were in my slippers, I might want to relax and let go a little. It’s hard to feel like a big deal in fuzzies so this was a fun chance to check in and recalibrate.
I can be willing to be more vulnerable with safe friends. Real friends welcome my harmless slip-ups. The dear one sitting across from me in my silly slippers made it very safe for me to be flawed and vulnerable without any of it being a problem. A gift!
I can practice “choosing to make the unwanted wanted.”* Isn’t it odd how something as pleasant as slippers can be wanted one moment and intensely unwanted the next? “Stuck” as I was in my unwanted slipperedness, I began surrendering, which allowed for a relaxed shift from resisting to letting be to welcoming. A good warm-up for more difficult times.
The world still needs “Free to be you and me.”* Liberating my slippers, albeit inadvertently, got me reflecting on liberties, freedoms, civil rights, and privileges – those enjoyed as well as those denied or threatened. A student of history, I notice that what once seemed radical – like women venturing beyond slippers, hearth, and home to vote, work, and lead – is now considered the norm by most. I hope and work for a time when the liberties we fear are too radical today find a peaceful way of becoming our norm. A norm of greater understanding, compassion, equity, and peace where we are all free to be you and me.
My slippers now sit by the door.
*From Jane Hirshfield’s poem “A Cedary Fragrance.”
**An album and song by Marlo Thomas and Alan Alda, popular in the 1970s.