i was on a whirlwind weekend work trip.  lots of driving every day.  working into the late night.  got home monday afternoon bloody tired.  but i ran for about 30 minutes at centennial park in my naked feet and felt better.  today i went for one of my favorite morning routines:  about ten minutes of barefoot walking, 40 minutes of pretty strenuous barefoot running (in the grass at Centennial), and then about 20 minutes of winding down, jogging, walking, on the way home.  By then it’s about 9 AM and I can get busy at home.

I have been thinking a lot about spirituality and politics.  Yep, some of you need to log off now.  But every time I run barefoot I think about how many people in the western world think that feet are some useless and poorly designed evolutionary mistake that must be well-shod to function at all.  I know very well that this is a conditioned response, based in habit and not in fact (notwithstanding the obvious need in cold climates to keep the feet warm…).

I think of myself now as an agnostic pantheist.  If Palin is elected President, I could well be arrested.  What it means to me is that I feel the idea of God is much too big and unfathomable to be given a human face, and that my experiences with what feels like God have occurred almost exclusively in nature—among mountains, in the desert, in forests, alongside rivers and oceans, gazing at a starry sky in a rural place, like northern New Mexico—and occasionally playing music, reading or gazing upon great art.  So that makes me an agnostic (things are too great and complicated to boil down to Father Figure God) and pantheist (seeing God as parallel to Nature and Earth).

What does this have to do with barefoot running and walking?  A whole lot.  When I get out there, I feel a specific connection with the Earth.  My feet are on it.  Every little thorn and pine cone makes me wince.  I am not our there to face physical pain and be a tough guy.  But I am out there to interact with the face of the Earth, feet first.  And it feels good.

This morning I warmed up on sidewalks and asphalt, winding up on my beloved lawns at Centennial Park.  I took a look around, and decided on a route, perhaps a 500 metre circle through some shady trees and then around the field in front of the Parthenon.  There was definitely something that took me back to a time way before I was born.  A time of picking a path between trees, to avoid the pine cones and burrs that fall off of trees.  I picked a path of softer grass and dirt.  It is still a hard-packed earth.  Contrary to some folks’ belief in some mystical and probaby nonexistent soft trails that our ancestors allegedly ran on in their bare feet.  I contend that trails are perhaps the most difficult to navigate in unshod feet.  The hard packed earth of a well worn trail is more likely the pathway of our ancestors.

All of this leads me to believe that as long as a good percentage of humans think of themselves as stewards of the earth, God’s representatives on earth—well, we will be fools enough to believe in a lot of bad ideas and follow a lot of bad leaders into situations that not only hinder our lives, but damage our home, this Earth.  I believe that the Earth is our larger self.

And that is a big part of why I love to be barefoot and roam around—at least in my little urban neighborhood, and wherever I may be otherwise.

Enjoy your barefoot run or walk and holler back about the spiritual side some time.