The First Rule of Foot Club

When you step into the ring of bare-footing, you automatically feel as if you’re suddenly a part of “Foot Club”, as if by some strange magic, the shod world becomes an opponent. Not by choice; it just sort of plays out that way. Even in spring and summer people stare at the lone barefoot walker, hiker, and especially the barefoot runner. Some people even think it’s OK to put on the verbal gloves and punch out an assortment of comments, ranging from simple questions like, “Where are your shoes?” to the more potent jab: “You forgot your shoes.” I’ll admit that comments like the last one do make me want to give someone a black eye.

Perhaps, I should be grateful. Such remarks remind me to be mindful. The cheap shots bring to mind the story about a Zen master who was verbally attacked by a peasant. The peasant shouted at the Master all manner of insults, “You’re on old fool; Your robes are ridiculous”, etc. The Master just smiled. Soon a cloud of people gathered. The crowd emboldened the cruel peasant who exploded with spite. He worked himself into a frenzy, erupting now with outright lies about the Zen Master. Throughout the Zen Master listened, his demeanor unchanged. When the peasant was finished with his tirade, someone from the crowd asked the master, “How do you respond to this? He has made some serious accusations.” The Zen master held his silence. “Have you nothing to say!?” the man from the audience continued. The Zen Master laughed. “I can see that this has upset you,” he paused. Looking to the crowd, the Master said, “What power do mere words have? If someone calls you a tree, do you become a tree?” The crowd laughed, “Of course not.” someone said.

The Master turned to the peasant who had shouted the insults at him. “You cannot see the enormous burden you carry. That is why you lay it at my feet, hoping I will join you in the carrying of it. But I will not pick up your load. Your spite does not belong to me. If you wish to carry it, you must do so alone.” That said, the Zen master continued his daily tasks.

When all is said and done, I’d rather shake hands in friendship than make a fist to fight. Better to gain a friend than an enemy. So, Foot Club is open to all. Heck, everyone is a member part of the day. Unless of course, you shower with your shoes on.

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