Most individuals have a prized possession – something that has far more sentimental value than monetary worth. Typically, one´s cherished treasure might be something handed down from generation to generation. It might be a special watch or pennant from a Great Grandparent or precious porcelain china from a long forgotten era. In my case, I`ve been living abroad working & traveling for the better part of my twenties. Things have changed over time. I´ve replaced ragged, torn or faded t-shirts. Cameras & other electronic gear has come and gone; however, the one thing that has been a trusty companion (even after all of these years) are what I´d like to call my ‘war boots’ – a very humble pair of sandals – that have been marched all over thirty countries in Asia & the Americas.
A quick examination of these sandals reveals the telling truth. They´re nearly worn to shreds. The straps have been frayed beyond recognition while the heals and soles are marred beyond belief. They´ve survived numerous close encounters with the rubbish bin. Ripped, shredded & torn apart on more than one occasion they´ve been doctored up by street merchants & shoeshine boys in both La Paz, Bolivia & Hanoi, Vietnam. Additionally, I´ve crazy glued both the straps & soles of these marvellous gliding pads more than I´d like to admit. In fact, I´ve just returned from a Seven Eleven in Chiang Mai, Thailand with a small bottle of crazy glue. They´re in desperate need of being repaired once again.
One must be thinking the obvious question – is this guy mad? Well, I´m not willing to clear my name of such accusations, but I do have my reasons for keeping them. Firstly, they´re extremely comfortable, after years of moulding to the shape of my feet. Secondly, in some ways they´re symbolic of what it´s like to be on the road travelling in mostly developing countries for long periods of time. The journey is astonishing; however, it´s also filled with plenty of bumps & bruises along the way with challenges that need to be conquered. The road will wear you down at times, much like the jagged path will tear away at my sandals; however, perseverance, inner strength & determination keep things moving forward in a direction of uncharted territory. I´ll need all of these qualities both internally within myself & externally from my sandals if I hope to continue onwards. They´ll eventually bite the dust & hit the waste bin. I´m not thoroughly attached to them, nor will I mount them on a wall or give them some sort of grossly grandeur type of ritualistic mourning ceremony. I know they´ll be toast someday, possibly even soon than later, but for the time being they´re a trusty companion helping me to confidently move one step forward at a time.