You are powerful! Yes. That’s an exclamation because I am indeed excited to remind you of this wonderful fact.
You are powerful! Yes. That’s an exclamation because I am indeed excited to remind you of this wonderful fact. But as powerful as you are, you can only achieve one small goal, in one small corner of the vast world and at a time.
That small goal is not as small as you think it is – it is enough to shock up some space in the mammoth tower of humanity. You remember how the weakest part of the chain is also its strongest part. The weakest part is great, not alone, but in relation to the rest of the chain.
Assume you are on the road, wet morning – office bound. What would it look like to step out of your house without your shoes on? What would it look like to walk on a highway barefooted? First, your shoes complement your dressing.
Ornamental purposes. Right? Second and the initial reason, your feet are protected from danger. You could have stepped on a sharp object. Your soles too could help transmit some diseases into your body.
You probably have not given much thought to your footwear before now. It’s a tiny part of humanity project. As insignificant as you often think it is, you are not complete without a pair that protects or adorns your legs.
This is possible because at a point in history, one small unknown human being used his/her power of imagination in the right direction. The person probably visualized or failed to envisage the significance of footwear to general human existence. Many people later found the essence of footwear.
That is why we have many companies producing all kinds of footwear today. In Nigeria there are: Gonne Shoe, Faceco Shoe, Waslatu Shoe, Jiblo Shoe etc. In the States, we have Alden, Red Wing, Danner, Allen Edmonds, Quoddy to mention a few.
In England we have Horace Batten, Grenson, Loake, Barkers, New Balance, Starchild Shoes, Carre Ducker etc. Italy has Alberto Fermani, Bruno Magli, Elsa Sschiaparelli, Geox, Guiseppe Zanotti etc. There are many more footwear manufacturers that are unknown because it is a kind of business you can venture into on a small scale.
Historians have not been able to pinpoint the exact time in history when people started using footwear but in a recent study some anthropologists have pinned it at 30 to 40,000 years ago. It is understood that what you wear is an introduction into who you are. In other words, you are what you wear. Anthropologists have tapped into this philosophy to determine the exact time in history when human beings started wearing shoes.
This means, they’d first have to note the kind of bone structures of the early men who wore no shoes and compare with that of the advanced people of history. This, the anthropologists did. And they were able to find out that the kinds of footwear we are used to alter our physical structure. It changes the way we walk, affects the ligaments and our bones.
Right from 20th century, scientists had called the attention of the world to the alterations done to human body structures by the kind of footwear they prefer. If as a woman, you are fond of wearing high-heeled shoes, your calf muscles would be small. There are obvious differences between feet accustomed to shoes and feet that don’t have constant experience of shoes. If you don’t often wear shoes, your feet are likely to be wide. The space between your big toe and the other four toes will be big. If your best choice is shoes, you are likely to have feet that look like something wedged together.
Today, people power their feet with all sorts of footwear (sneaker, sandal, sandshoe, pump, jelly, flip-flop, stiletto, boot, waders, galoshes etc.) diseases are therefore inadvertently prevented as their feet are cocooned away in fashionable and comfortable zone.
But the human feet are never the same again. Modern citizens of the world now have small toe bones as a result of exposing their feet to different kinds of footwear, especially shoes. So a Washington University anthropologist, Erik Trinkaus went back in time to study the exact point when people’s toe bones began to shrink.
He found out that the difference in toe bones became pronounced around 30,000 years ago. World’s oldest shoes are said to have endured some 10,000 years, meaning Trinkaus’ research should be somewhere in that range. By some dint of more research on people’s toe bones and critical analysis, the figure rose to 30,000 years and even got to somewhere around 40,000 years.
If human beings already started using shoes as far back as 40,000 years ago, it then should suffice to make a fallacy-free conjecture that shoe wearing has altered significantly the physical structures of our bone system. There could be other reasons modern humans have smaller toe bones: walking less, avoid carrying heavy things, climbing less etc. This makes other anthropologists doubt the authenticity of Trinkaus’ research. It is glaring that the more modern the world becomes, the lesser people engage in physical activities.
There was a time you would have to get up from your seat and walk all the way to your TV set if you must change a channel. Now, you just press the remote control. That’s kind of bad for your body because going to the TV and returning to your seat is a form of exercise. Perhaps, the toe bones of human beings began to shrink 40,000 years ago because people just avoided getting physical. Whether we believe Trinkaus’ findings or not, it is only logical for toe bones to get smaller after a long period of constant exposure to shoes.
Some even believe that keeping your feet away in shoes could make your feet smaller over time. It is obvious that shoe wearing is a good treatment for the feet. You feel a level of power when you wear the type of footwear suitable for a particular occasion. You are going to your farm on a muddy Saturday. You put on your wellington boots.
That is power! You are not scared of any insect, animal, sharp object, or the mud. Your feet are well protected. The car of the feet is the footwear. You are the driver.
Priding yourself in being powerful is sheer power worship. Your sense of power is incomplete without a sense of purpose. You know what they say about the futility of power without purpose or control. You keep associating power with office, wealth or knowledge. You don’t always need these things to feel powerful: just a little talent fired by passion that drives you through your daily tasks.
Whatever you do with passion naturally yields its power to you. Power is also a dream well dreamt and skillfully executed with the whole of humanity in mind. This is where we often err. You should by now realize the kind of power you wield as a cobbler – a repairer or maker of footwear. You protect our soles from danger; you arm us with a strong sense of self-worth. You reinstall confidence into the system of those who limp to your workshop – not because they are injured – but because a leather has cut on their sandals and they cannot afford the embarrassment.
The highway sweeper does not see the significance of his keeping the roads clean. The teacher is only concerned with a class, here and now. The sculptor only sees her creations, something for which she can get some money or compliments.
The cobbler cannot understand the relationship between his work and life. The comedian is just an unserious entity, he probably does not know how far his jokes will travel to save the future. The umbrella maker does not see the need to feel fly about helping to protect people from sun and rain. Some works are performed in the “dark.”
The writer has to dot the pages in his personal moments away from the world. His biggest headache is probably acceptance and fame. We are just a bunch of now-now people looking after our stomachs and pride and being powerful.
That little thing you do so well, that good little thing that fills your stomach with food and your heart with joy, that little adventure of creativity – even when performed in the closet – is your power and you cannot afford not to do it with passion and purpose.
Just because the road is an immediate reality does not make it the goal of the driver; his ultimate dream is the destination that he cannot physically see at the moment. The same goes for a road engineer who must not get carried away with the present significance of the road.
He must look beyond now and envisage the pleasure that will light up the faces of future travelers when they plight the road. That is the way he can do a blessing-attracting, memory-keeping job. That thought alone is power that outlives the thinker.
Omidire, Idowu Joshua is a critic, essayist and editor. His works have appeared in different anthologies and online magazines.