By Euden Valdez
I hope this won’t bore you but I’m going to talk about shoes—and a lot about myself through shoes.
I come from a middle-class family who always have just about enough, if not less. Growing up as a student, I remember the only time I would be bought a new pair of shoes was before the school began. I had other pairs apart from the leather ones but these weren’t many.
Today, in a span of two weeks, I bought myself two pairs of running shoes, costing about P10,000, for my upcoming, first marathon in February. I don’t mean to brag because in reality—well my share of reality—that amount is already a luxury. It wasn’t intended rather the result of careless choices.
Yet as frustrated as I am with myself, those two pair of shoes made me understand some things in life better. Like how life is one big investment.
And then I realized this lesson goes way back when I first fall in love with sneakers. My first crush was Chuck Taylor. To a college student, it was so cool, truly an All Star. I was influenced by an older cousin, who by the way, bought me my first-ever pair of Chucks. It was low-cut and just red.
My love affair with Chuck Taylor continued for the rest of college and all the way through my first years in the newspaper. It kind of felt right for a dyarista to be sporting Chucks, doesn’t it? And because I was already earning, I finally afforded myself a second pair of Chucks. Do note that I waited for the year-end sale of the brand where I bought another red pair, but in limited edition print. After this, I dreamt of collecting Chucks but I only got myself a total of four pairs in my lifetime.
What happened? I simply had a change in preference. As a lifestyle reporter then, I had to dress up and look fashionista enough. This opened up a whole new world of shoes for me from ballerina flats to heels, wedges to brogues, boots to espadrilles. Heck, I could even run in stilettos (I still could). Lucky me, part of the job was attending media launches of all kinds of footwear brands. Most of them gave GCs and free pairs and I practically owned shoes I’d never buy. It was like the universe conspired to give me all the shoes I never had growing up.
But this didn’t last. I didn’t want it to last. One day, I woke up and told myself, I want to buy all the shoes that I want from my own pocket.
Of course, I still couldn’t—and wouldn’t. I buy a pair of shoes today not because I want but because I need it. The purchase must be worth it even with a hefty price tag.
I came to terms with this during my third shoe phase, when I started hiking/mountaineering. I actually have four pairs for the great outdoors, including heavy-duty sandals, an all-terrain-er, boots, and one waterproofed. These may seem a lot but each serve its purpose. In fact, my all-terrain pair got so battered after crossing Kaliwa/Agos River countless times this year. But even after three years of usage, I’m not giving up on it as it can still be repaired. With this, I get to maximize the product and minimize my carbon footprint. This tiny bit of effort goes back to Mother Earth--a way of giving back to her beauty that we experience whenever in her forests, rivers, waterfalls, summits and seas.
Three years since discovering the benefits of an active and conscious lifestyle, I then joined a marathon for the first time ever—hence my newest craze in shoes, running shoes to be exact. Earlier this year, I bought myself a pair of trainers but I knew this wasn’t enough for race day itself. I had to buy the proper pair for my gait so delighted I was when I saved P5,000 from the P50 challenge. I didn’t spend my savings and Christmas bonus to buy my marathon shoes!
It was all good until my first run wearing my new New Balance 1260 shoes. Immediately I knew there was something wrong. The worse part, I bought it from an outlet store in Singapore during a conference trip there. There was no replacing it.
But what’s done was done, and I needed to correct the mistake. Hence, I bought a second pair here, my On Cloudstratus pair. On, was a brand I first saw and read in 2015, in which I taught, what pretty awesome shoes. I loved it, but what for?
Fast forward to today, I was investing myself a pair of On. A dream come true. Next dream is to cross the finish line in 2020.
And with that, I knew now why this incident happened just before the New Year: That no matter the uncertainty of the outcome, find the courage to invest not in material things but in relationships old and new, and in experiences challenging and gratifying.