I don’t blog. Well, I guess now I do. I didn’t blog. I never wanted to. What would I talk about? Who would care? Would I care? I still can’t answer any of these, but now I have a blog, so, here we go.
Story time: The other day I was finishing a class assignment in which I pretended as if someone was casting the story of my life and needed a breakdown of the lead character (which would be me, if that wasn’t clear . . .) and this is what I came up with:
“Alex is weird. He can smell a good song, he hears Bach when he bites into a cheeseburger, he can taste heartbreak. Alex is also curious. He wonders (often) what it’s like to be a dog, where our memories go when we’ve forgotten them, what dreams may come when we’ve shuffled off this mortal coil of fear and hatred.
Alex is a titular Shakespearean tragic hero. He is Caesarian in his ambition, Macbethatical in his darkness, Learian in his madness. He is Othellian in his jealousy, Hamletic in his wit, and, most importantly, Romeomatic in his love.
Alex is other people’s shoes. He is the sneakers of a bully’s victim, the boots of the bully, the heels of a girl embarrassed to be around him. He is the Chucks of a crying sister, the Clarks of a friend that’s lost a father, and the bare feet of a child that does not need luxury to know love.
Alex has also been alive for twenty-one years, stands five feet, eleven inches tall (six flat when he’s confident) and weighs one hundred and sixty-five pounds. But that’s not who Alex is: he’s a weirdly curious Shakespearean hero wearing other people’s shoes. Cast accordingly.”
I wanted a picture that would complement this breakdown, and was drawn to the idea of a pile of shoes, a lot of shoes, all different kinds, piled up on the floor. So I ran to my trusted friend Google Image Search and typed “giant pile of shoes.” I would wager that 40% of the results were images of Holocaust victims’ shoes eerily preserved in huge piles on dirt floors in dark, haunted rooms. It was a rude yet extraordinarily moving slap to my rarely optimistic face that had expected colorful piles of secondhand sneakers in a DSW warehouse. While I did not ultimately choose a Holocaust picture as my accompanying image, it remains a powerful reminder of what I was talking about in the first place: stepping into other people’s shoes.
That’s what I want to explore, and what I’d like you to explore with me: what does it mean to see through another’s eyes, to walk through the world laced into another’s shoes. It’s an age-old cliche, but if we stopped talking about age-old cliches they’d quickly become age-old relics, fossilized pieces of humanity that get dug up by inquisitive robots or, even worse, forgotten about completely. I want to talk about empathy before we descend into apathy.
This will not be easy, but I decided (just now) that you can’t start a blog if you’re going to talk about the easy things. That’s what breeds apathy, what forces me to ask who would care, would I care. It will be hard, and goddammit it should be. It will be hard the way walking in size 13 shoes when you’re only a size 5 is hard. We have some big shoes to fill, much bigger than size 13’s, but we have to try.
Plus, I’m tired of my shoes.