Sunday, July 20, 2008

On or Off?

Do you remove your shoes before entering your home, or wear them inside? Removing one's shoes is a sign of respect to the house, and is a deeply ingrained cultural habit throughout Asia. It is likely a practice that billions have (if you consider China, India, and Japan alone), but may be less common in the U.S. - nevertheless, I know many in the U.S. do remove their shoes - including at least this ASU student, whose shoes point toward campus. I've seen the subject debated, and it seems silly to me. I mean, if you want to wear your shoes inside, more power to you. And if you don't, great. In my opinion, the argument not to take shoes off, however, is a bit weak when you consider the overall benefits of taking them off. It almost seems a bit mindless to leave them on, with the exception of those who leave them on for some purpose (maybe they need arch support?).

Consider this: shoes are dirty. They are that thin bit separating you from everywhere you've been. You know where you've been. And on your travels things stick - lead, pesticides, oil, dirt, public bathroom floors - all deposited on your home floor to become part of the indoor air that you breathe.

And then consider that removing one's shoes can be a mindful practice - each opportunity to do something even as simple as removing shoes can bring attention to where you are, right now. Your bare feet touching the floor - whether natural fibers or the smoothness of wood - is an entirely different connection than your shoe touching the floor. As someone famous once said, "the foot feels the foot when it feels the ground."


Barbara said...

My grandkids always remove their shoes and put them under the coffee table when they come to my house...I didn't teach them that and I don't think they do it at home. My carpet is kind of cushy so maybe they like the feel on their toes??

Virginia said...

I heard that same argument made for removing your shoes the other day. I never thought about it like that. I always take mine off the minute i walk in just cause I like to walk around in bare feet. Good idea and I really like photo as well. I thought someone had left them or lost them and couldn't imagine walking around Tempe barefooted. Yikes!

Celestial Fundie said...

People should take their shoes off.

I have an whole blog on this subject: Shoes Off at the Door, Please You might want to take a look.