The Parable of Shoes: The Restoration

A man worked at managing some small corner of a large shoe factory for a very long time, and one day he heard others speaking of the first shoe, the very first shoe ever made.  That night he took what he heard, combined it with his knowledge of foot-physiology, added to this an understanding of leatherworking and of the molding of rubber.  By morning he designed what he believed to be the first shoe.  But it was not the first shoe, of course; it represented the first shoe, to him; and, increasingly, to many others at the factory where he worked.  He made and sold these shoes, a pair at a time, although they were not well made, and often slipped around, and even right off, one’s foot.  It seemed to some that these first shoes were not really made for the foot of Man.

But the trend of retro-footwear soon took off.  The First Shoe Co. was born, its shoes worn; and seasonally updated, very slightly by many others, including a supervisor.

After many years, this supervisor took his team to a corporate retreat in upstate New York, where they met a man who ran a bed and breakfast.  As the supervisor settled into bed that night, he noticed a golden braid hanging from the sky right through his open window, dangling in the evening breeze.  He realized, at once, “this is the shoe lace I’ve long desired, desired to tie my shoe with!”  So he grabbed and unbraided the strands, measured and cut them to the correct size, punched a few holes in his shoes.  By morning the supervisor was eating toasted pecan and vanilla waffles drizzled with wild pennsylvania strawberries atop a glaze of fresh Vermont maple syrup, his feet snugly shoed-in thanks to the golden braid.  As he walked about the parlor, conducting team-building exercises, others noticed his shoes did not slip as they once did, and they wondered at it: what shoe horn did this man possess, to get his shoes to wear so snug?  They too ran to their rooms, and finding golden braids, did as their supervisor, and tied their shoes, finding they now could run in place with ease, not worrying about the shoes slipping off.

After the supervisor and his team checked out, leaving the bed and breakfast reluctantly, the owner noticed all his braids were gone, and were worn by the team as shoe laces.  He thought this strange, and not a little foolish, to use heavenly cordage for such a thing as keeping heavy, clumsy and badly made retro shoes tied to one’s jogging feet; for this man wore no shoes, and he never unbraided knots.  But he followed the team, on weekends, as they engaged in a team-building 5k, a team-building speed-walk, a team-building Jazzercise and Yoga session, waiting for them to untie their shoes, and to rebraid those laces into a rope.  For with such a rope they might climb to Heaven.

Instead the supervisor and his team started their own shoe factory, and when the question of patent and trademark infringement was pressed in an executive meeting, the team decided that their shoes were, in fact, the First Shoes, and not simply a retro-shoe.  Nevermind the facts of chronology, and the details of history, the supervisor screamed, these shoes are the first shoes that the First Shoe Co. imitated!  Thereafter all the CEOs of the Real First Shoe Co. insisted their shoes were first, being the same generic design of a shoe that gave us all shoes.  And being worn by athletes, models, and reality tv celebrities, the shoes, and the Company, became very precious, and necessary: for the team-building exercises were often conducted on hard, hot pavement.

Some noticed, however, that the addition of the golden braids really made all the difference.

Many consumers over the long years forgot that no one, way back in in Eden-times, ever really needed shoes, for they walked on grass, and their feet fell light upon paths that were soft.

The first pair were found, the man who long ago ran the bed and breakfast one morning mused — as he watched all the running, hiking, jumping in place, and other daily exercises which simply wore out the shoes, requiring more factories to supply ever more pairs — the first shoes, he thought, were long ago found by an aged couple considering a hard journey across thorny pavement, merely to find some bread.  Those very first shoes, he said to himself, were no longer needed by their owner: now lacking feet, he left them on a path strewn with soft golden and silver petals delightfully fragrant, hoping that with shoes, someone might search out and walk a thorny road, just to get a little exercise.


  1. Some studied (at great personal expense) the bespoke shoemaker’s craft only to find that the shoe had become a thing unto itself. No longer were the environs one was wont to tread taken into consideration. Shoe lasts were carved mostly for looks, and incorporated planned deformity of the human toe as part of their design…

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