Where have your feet been? I heard this week that through cell phones, our comings and goings are trackable, and predictable. We tend to go the same places in our daily routines no matter what our lifestyle is.
Look at Mikhail Baryshnikov's feet. Imagine if you could track his comings and goings. I caught the first shot of a recent interesting photo shoot Annie Leibovitz had with him now that they're both in their sixties after knowing each other 30 years (not the photo at left), and my eyes were drawn to his feet. If you go to that first shot link you'll see him standing on a black box in her studio on the right side of the photo, his toes overlapping the edge. Veins bulge from what look like bulky broad bald hobbit feet. They're beautiful. I believe in his feet. I remember the first ballet I went to, it was Nutcracker, and what do I remember most? The sound of dancers' feet hitting the stage when they lept and jumped. A person who weighs 130 pounds bears about 500 pounds of pressure with every step. So, extrapolate that to a leaping, jumping Misha who is just my height, 5'6" or so, but I think more than 130 pounds.
Now look at Annie Mullins' adopted feet. See her here wearing her athletic prostheses. She has different ones - realistic flesh-like legs for dresses and even hand carved boot ones with high heels. My friend Jean posted a TED video presentation of hers. I watched, stunned, as this model-actress-athlete who was born without shin bones and had her legs amputated below the knee when she was about a year old could electrify a huge audience to encourage kids to go where they want to go, not in spite of circumstances, but through them, because of them. She stood and walked around on the stage, her black jumpsuit fluttering around her legs, and I never would have known from the way she carried herself and her level of confident authority, what she was born without. I believe in her feet too. I think of that Emerson quote at the Princess Margaret Hospital by the chemo completion bell: "What lies behind us, and what lies before us, are tiny matters compared to what lies within us."
I've learned not to judge myself by celebrities. I know these two are celebrated for extraordinary skill, training, and perseverance, sometimes through remarkable pain, and live up there in the stratosphere of accomplishment. But their feet interest me, because feet are normal. They touch the earth or the floor every single day. They are so basic that even though Aimee didn't have them, with help she fought to get and use them, even competing with athletes whose legs were born healthy. Think of Jake in Avatar and how he went nuts running around and jumping on his new avatar feet after being a human paraplegic.
I think of Don's feet going to and from the barn, up and down the barn steps, walking among his chickens. Or standing in his classroom several hours a day, five days a week. Or Susie's feet in her kitchen standing and moving from stove to sink to refrigerator as she prepares meals with love for her family. Or rauf's feet that run up and down the stairs to his sisters' apartments to look in on them when they're ailing. Or Loring's feet that faithfully march in peace to the stop-war beat. Or the feet of my students who walk miles in a week getting to classes on our huge campus. Their feet are part of their education. Or Lesley getting to work in Manhattan from Astoria, Queens - walking to the elevated train, then riding, hopping out on the platform, switching trains, then getting out, climbing the stairs to the street and walking in any weather to her office. I tell her she should wear flat shoes to and from work, but you know New Yorkers, shoes are part of the ensemble, and what would NY street life be without fashion? For something a little depressing if you love them, look at the effects of high heels.
Feet. There they are, at the bottom of my legs. One fourth of the bones of my body are in my feet. During my lifetime I will probably walk the distance from the earth to the moon. In between I'll stand, balance, lean, walk, dance, run, turn, pivot, squat, wiggle, dig, point, press a gas pedal, then quickly brake a pedal, climb stairs, descend stairs, stand on tiptoes to be taller. Martha Washington said,“Think of the magic of that foot, comparatively small, upon which your whole weight rests. It's a miracle, and the dance...is a celebration of that miracle.”
Today I'm going to shuffle, skip and jump in a foot party.