Today I was taking two nice stones down to the labyrinth and found an appropriate place to place them when a guy I had only seen at the UU appeared at the entrance to the labyrinth and took off his shoes. It’s usually a quiet walk for me and whoever happens to be walking at the same time. But walking the labyrinth barefooted on large angular gravel stones had to be painful and when I passed near this super-stoic I had to start a conversation.
One of the most memorable events in my life was walking on stones the hour that World War Two ended. I was on the family farm near Wilder, Idaho, when the announcement was made on the radio. At that time I was still nine years old and ran barefoot nearly all the time, except when in school. My best friend at that time was Thomas Yost who lived a couple of hundred yards up the gravel road, to the right in the photo below. We would play together often and would walk that stretch of road routinely in our bare feet to get together.
The minute the announcement came on the radio, the only person in our house was my grandmother, so we talked about the news for a minute and then I headed out to tell Thomas. It was so important that I was running as fast as I could go up the gravel road. I normally walked and would step on the relatively clear places between the larger gravel stones but this time I was in a great hurry and so I was running. The problem was that I couldn’t judge where my foot was going to land quickly enough and so several times landed on a large angular stone. Ouch, that really hurt. After several of these painful events, I decided to walk more normally, but hurriedly. This whole event couldn’t have lasted more than a minute or two, but it was so painful I remember it clearly seventy-two years later. As it turned out Thomas had his radio turned on and so he had already heard the news.
Back at the labyrinth I related this story to the barefoot walker and commented on the fact that I probably weighed about sixty-five pounds back then. The labyrinth walker was quite large and he said he weighed about two-hundred-seventy-five pounds. The area of the feet goes up by the square and bodily weight goes up by the cube so the load per square inch was much greater and therefore the pain must have been much greater.
It is beyond me how he could endure the pain of walking on those angular rocks.