Tuesday, May 18, 2010

By Sea or By Foot

The water was my goal for the day, so I clad my feet in flip flops and set off for the harbor.  I purchased my boat ticket and checked my watch to see that I had a bit of time before boarding.  I wandered the wharfs, admiring the sparkle of sunlight on water and the petals of flowers that fluttered in the pleasant breeze.  More sensibly, I went to purchase sunscreen and a pomegranate pear juice and greeted the crew 15 minutes before our scheduled departure before perching happily in a seat in the sun.  

I breathed the briny scent of the ocean, thinking it perfect since my earliest memories of the ocean are of the Atlantic in Florida.  I shivered happily as we released the ropes and set off on our narrated journey, replying to direct comments and questions until my colleagues left me to my thoughts as the vessel rocked gently as it moved through the water.  I practiced a vague sort of meditation, letting my mind clear and focusing on my breath and the movement of the boat and the waves in the water.   I even took photos sparingly - watching the prettiness but not feeling the compulsion to capture a piece of it for later.  

I followed the group through the cobblestone sidewalks, enjoying clam chowder so ridiculously good I almost couldn't stand it and smoothing on more sunscreen before traipsing across town to look at more buildings and dutifully participate in group activities. 

After several miles (did I mention I'm losing weight with all the sightseeing?  My life is so good right now!), the tops of my feet were sore from the rubbing of the straps on my shoes.  I frowned down at them, determined to embrace the experience and enjoy the historic buildings and gorgeous weather.

"My feet hurt," I finally confided to the man beside me which sparked a not unsympathetic discussion on pretty versus comfortable footwear.  While I conceded that heels often do hurt me - my arches ache and soles swell - flip flops are generally kind to me.  "These," I offered conversely, "are new and they rub in an odd spot.  But I bought them because my sneakers were hurting my heels." 

Deciding that was the lesser of two evils, when we stopped back at home base, I slipped on socks and renewed my relationship with Reebok.  I'm fond of shoe stories - I don't know if my feet are odd sized or that I'm intolerant of pain there, but I often think about footwear and how it can serve as a vehicle to discuss progress and change. 

The trick that I've learned - especially while traveling - is to take multiple pairs of shoes and to select each pair carefully for form and function.  If you need pumps, bring the most comfortable pair.  If you're going to be walking, take sandals and sneakers - both are likely to hurt but it will be in different places so switching will offer relief.  I've likewise learned to be adaptable in my interactions with people - a trait this class emphasizes in some interesting ways.  We are to learn what motivates people - be they customers or colleagues - and understand how we can merge goals for mutual progress. 

"So," I offered as an example, "I wanted my feet to stop hurting and Joe wanted me to stop talking about how my feet hurt.  So he should have carried me and we'd have been all set!"

Joe frowned before saying I should consider the implicit desires of people, like not carrying colleagues through city streets. 

"You could have been quiet," someone offered unhelpfully, making me smile before asking how that helped my feet not hurt. 

"Barefoot," another colleague suggested and I considered it, thinking rather happily about walking across the grass without shoes before wrinkling my nose at the thought of stepping on sidewalks in a similar fashion.  We went through a series of options before returning to a more reasonable example and I realized that, despite the initial general dread, I quite enjoy training once it's started.  

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