Muddy Shoes

I did my second ever parkrun on Saturday in glorious Spring weather. I did ok, not my fastest 5k but I enjoyed it. It was really lovely to see so many people taking part, it was a 5 lap course and inevitably my lap speeds were declining each time round… I can’t seem to pace myself at all and so after a fiery first mile I’m pretty beat- work in progress!

Another beautiful day on Sunday and a new take on an old route. You know you have those runs that are like a comfy pair of slippers- well worn, reliable, familiar. The Walla Crag-Ashness Bridge is one of those routes. This time, we decided to go for a take on the classic and take in Bleaberry Fell and High Seat- new to me and totally worth it. That’s why I love the Lakes, so many hidden gems, possible different configurations of routes- always exciting.

It was boggy underfoot but completely worth it for beautiful views of snow-topped distant fells.  It was pretty quiet, just the odd walker here and there. 

The other day I’d been doing some P4C (Philosophy for Children) and we were discussing a piece of art by Van Gogh- a favourite of mine:

Vincent Van Gogh, Shoes, 1886

What can we learn from these shoes?

From the dark opening of the worn insides of the shoes the toilsome tread of the worker stares forth. In the stiffly rugged heaviness of the shoes there is the accumulated tenacity of her slow trudge through the far-spreading and ever-uniform furrows of the field swept by a raw wind. On the leather lie the dampness and richness of the soil. Under the soles slides the loneliness of the field-path as evening falls. In the shoes vibrates the silent call of the earth, its quiet gift of the ripening grain and its unexplained self-refusal in the fallow desolation of the wintry field. This equipment is pervaded by uncomplaining anxiety as to the certainty of bread, the wordless joy of having once more withstood want, the trembling before the impending childbed and shivering at the surrounding menace of death. This equipment belongs to the earth, and it is protected in the world of the peasant woman. From out of this protected belonging the equipment itself rises to its resting-within-itself.

Heidegger, The Origin of the Work of Art (1935)

Heidegger was writing this as part of an enquiry into aesthetics. Some have been quick to jump on the fact that these are apparently men’s shoes, that’s irrelevant in my opinion. What this picture tells us is, on the face of it, not a lot. But in fact, it tells us everything.

I was talking about comfy slippers earlier in the post.When I took off my Terraclaws outside the door on Sunday, they were not unlike Van Gogh’s Shoes- battered, lived in, covered in mud and grass… ‘the accumulated tenacity of her slow trudge’, ‘dampness and richness of the soil’, ‘the silent call of the earth’…unlike Heidegger’s imagined peasant woman, I’ve set out by choice and remember that I’m fortunate to be in a position to be be able to choose to suffer…. today there was no suffering, just a glorious day… I looked again at those wet muddy shoes and I’ve been smiling ever since.


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