The theme song to Rocky may only have been playing in my head when I entered the door of my house yesterday after a 3-mile walk around the stretch of road we call “The Boulevard,” but it was playing nonetheless. While family, friends and neighbors may walk The Boulevard with ease, I have seldom completed it. But after coming back from Hana, Hawaii where I walked a lot, I decided to keep up the good work and start walking The Boulevard both for the exercise and as a form of prayer and meditation. The problem is it hasn’t been easy and it hasn’t been peaceful. It would be simple to blame my being a desk-bound, out-of-shape couch potato as part of the problem and no doubt I could be more physically fit, but the real issue is my feet. Bone spurs, Achilles tendonitis, and plantar fasciitis don’t make walking easy as I found out when I hiked around Portland, Maine on my recent reunion with friends. A couple of years ago, I saw a podiatrist and physical therapist who fit me with orthotics, but the plantar fasciitis recently flared up even with them in my shoes. It seems my rigid high-arched feet don’t make for easy walking and I tend to supinate, walking on the outer sides of my feet. It helped hearing this from the physical therapist who explained some of my lack of athleticism could be contributed to the fact that my legs were simply not made to do what a lot of people can do so easily. She even told me that certain muscles in my legs were working so hard that they were equivalent to that of a gymnast. I wish my old gym teacher had heard this report.
Still, knowing the reason why my feet didn’t work and my legs turned to rubber when I tried to walk didn’t help me complete The Boulevard, but a new pair of shoes did. I stopped in the New Balance sneaker store the other day to see if they carried high tops. My sister-in-law had a cool pair of red Adidas and try as I might to make a similar pair fit me they were just too narrow. I knew New Balance carried wide widths and if they had high tops I thought I might find a pair there that were more comfortable. They didn’t have any in, but what they did have was a certified pedorthist to offer advice. Although I had never heard of a certified pedorthist after a few minutes talking to her I realized she was a foot expert. She immediately identified the problems with my foot that I had learned form my podiatrist and had fitted me with the proper size shoe. Although I have known for years that my foot measures a size 7, I have been wearing 8s and 9s in an effort to accommodate their width. Sometimes I could go smaller with a 7.5 if I was lucky enough to find a wide-width shoe, but this was rare. I discovered, however, that not only did I need a size 7 with the proper fit to accommodate my high arches and tendency to supinate; I also needed a double E in width. For years, I had been living in the confines of a too narrow shoe. The pedorthist sent me home with my new sneakers and the warning to break them in gradually. I did and voila I managed to complete the whole stretch of The Boulevard yesterday; hence the refrain of Rocky’s theme song.
That may have been enough to proclaim “Gonna Fly Now” but it was my revelation that it wasn’t just my shoe that was the wrong size. For a while now I’ve been shaping myself to accommodate other people's visions of my life, trying to fit within the confines of two small a worldview. As I walked The Boulevard, stared at the expanse growing corn against the blue sky, I realized mine was a double E life and it was time for me to try out the shoe that fits so I can fly.