Tuesday, July 8, 2014

On Feet

La Coruna, Spain
Los Menhires

Where have your toes been? What ground have they touched? What textures, colors, temperatures, smells have wrapped around them; what places have they been in? Do you take off your shoes when you have a moment in nature, when you might be resting on a rock, watching the waves rock back and forth after a mellow stroll? Do you walk down a beach, street, parking lot, grassy knoll barefoot or keep your soles protected from the world around you, hidden in shoes?

Shoes have their purposes, and there are times when we need to protect ourselves, but whenever it seems appropriate I find myself peeling these constrictive things off my feet. An airplane ride, long bus trip and even occasional car drive merit the removal of my shoes. Going to a place with water flowing certainly has me barefooted. I like to dig into where I am and feel connected; if the roots of our bodies are our feet, the soles of them can be planted firmly into the ground. If making this comparison, perhaps the tendency to be barefooted more often when in nature than on man-made surfaces is a logical extension of the fact that plants do not grow from most man-made materials, and if they do, they usually find the cracks within to begin their life.

The more time we spend with our feet in the elements, the better equipped they become to bearing the conditions. Remove yourself from a shoe protected existence for just a moment and you will find the textures difficult to handle, but spend a bit more time feeling stones and their sharp edges under your skin and you will eventually adjust. Your skin will thicken, perhaps becoming less pretty to a superficial world but your feet will be stronger, and more useful. They will be better for this.

As an art model, I occasionally choose to file down some of my hard earned callouses. Bitter as this may be, I play with the balance between hardened feet which help me when working outdoors - skipping from rock to rock, sliding over gravelly surfaces, dancing around pine needles and thorny plants, and sneaking around broken glass, and my studio work where skin as close to perfect is preferable - skin which has not marred by the effects of too many indulgences and thus cellulite, daily collisions with household objects, scrapes and bruises from moments in nature and hardened, or ugly feet from a low shoe usage existence or walking in abundance in certain shoes. During summer seasons when outside more frequently I away to the side of practical feet rather than flawless, because that is what makes sense. I always have some level of beauty and inability to withstand some elements, because balanced is my preferred way for my feet to be.

 Macchu Picchu, Peru

 The Amazon River, Ecuador

 Outside of Seattle, WA

 La Coruna, Spain fortress

When I travel, most of my photos have me on the other side of the camera, making the photos rather than in them. When working as a model, I am of course always in the photos, as I am not the one taking them. If in a place by myself, putting my feet in the foreground is my way to have photographic proof of my presence. Sometimes my feet are in shoes, sometimes not. I could stand to have a few more snapshots of myself, but have not embraced the concept of "selfies" and am not convinced I need to be in photos of places enough to bother asking someone to take photos for me. Fortunately feet and shoes are almost always photogenic, because even when not, no one can tell.

I leave you with a few images of where my feet, and thus my body, and mind and heart have been.

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