I’m worried. Not about anything earth shattering, but worried just the same. You see, I have a little girl and she is growing. One of these days she is going to learn how to tie her shoes. Then she is going to go stay with my parents, and she will ask me ‘why doesn’t grandpa know how to tie his shoes?’
The answer to this one is: I’m not sure my father knows HOW to tie his shoes.
My whole life, on the way to the soccer field, through grocery stores on Sunday afternoons, walking to the park, my father never has his shoes tied. Sure they were tied once he needed them to be in order to go running, but I never actually saw him do it. Still, I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve been with my dad and strangers pointed out ‘hey man, your shoes are untied.’ My dad, without taking a break in his steadfast walk, would grin and say, ‘it’s good luck.’ Now, with my own child’s shoes coming closer to the day they will need to be tied by grandpa, I can’t help but wonder; is it really good luck, or did he never learn to tie his shoes?
Anyone who knows my dad, the soccer coach, stood next to him at countless practices and games while he paced and called out plays with his shoes untied. One of the most memorable moments for me, was watching one of the senior soccer videos my father’s soccer team put out each year. This particular year, the video ended with close up on my father walking down the field with his shoes untied.
I must admit, I do it too. (I’m pretty sure my brother and sister do it as well.) When I don’t have to tie my shoes to hike or run, when I’m just walking about, I leave my shoes untied. And I’ve never tripped; my father has never tripped either, not that I am aware of.
So I started to think of this untied shoe issue and look at it the way a teacher of English Literature might (the old man being one of these). Perhaps all these years, the untied shoes meant something. Perhaps it was a metaphor for life. A lesson, we, his children, were supposed to pick up on. Perhaps the loose laces represented non-conformity. My dad is a nonconformist if I’ve ever met one. He does not like to go the way of the crowd, but he likes to sit back and look at the world for a moment before he decides which move is best for him. The flapping tongue of the shoe, maybe that stands for speaking your mind. I know I tend to be opinionated; never holding back exactly what I’m feeling. I come by it honestly, my dad speaks his mind. Granted, his years have given him a little more tact than I have at times.
Or perhaps the loose laces represent a laid back persona. Some sort of Jimmy Buffet existence minus the flip flops. Which brings me to another point. Why not wear flip flops instead? Those would be easier to slide on and there would be no worry about tying ones shoes. (Or having it pointed out by strangers that shoes are untied.) It’s because the shoe itself represents being well grounded, down to earth and ready for any challenge that comes along. I think.
Perhaps the untied shoelaces stand for one man’s bastion of self-assuredness; self-awareness; and confidence. Maybe it’s my father’s way of living life on the edge, taking chances. Perhaps it’s artistic; a life long performance art piece. My dad is theatrical, the life of the party…oh, maybe it’s a conversation opener.
Perhaps the lesson my brother, sister and I were meant to learn from this was that will never tie our shoes for ‘the man’ unless we ‘feel’ like it.
Then again, my father not tying his shoes; it could just be laziness, with no metaphoric reasoning at all.
Happy Birthday Dad.