When I returned from Greece this summer I noticed that my running shoes were very dusty. Well, that’s an understatement. They were no longer even white. I kept thinking I should wash them, but I simply couldn’t. The last place we visited in Greece was the ancient Agora in Athens. I spent the entire day in awe. This was where the most influential political and philosophical minds of western civilization waked, talked and puzzled. The dirt on my shoes was from the same pathways and roads on which Aristotle, Plato and Socrates paced and argued. It was speculated that Aesop visited Athens and told his most famous fable, The Frogs who Desired a King, in this same Agora to dissuade the citizens from attempting to depose Peisistratus for another ruler. My shoes were coated with the dust of democracy! Who was I to wash it away? So left them dirty.
That is, until a friend of mine commented on how dirty my shoes were. At that point I finally relented and talked myself into washing them. Into the washing machine they went. But they came out just as dirty as they went in. So I washed them again. Still no change. It became a challenge. I took bleach and a toothbrush to them. They remained a dull grey. Forever altered. Baffled, I left my shoes to dry in the sun and like any good philosopher, contemplated my dilemma. Then it dawned on me. The dust of democracy was embedded. Democracy could not be washed away from my shoes any easier than it could from my consciousness. For me, democracy is an honorable a way of life. My shoes were a living representation of this precious philosophical and political stance.
As you may have guessed, I have stopped trying to clean my shoes. I’ve decided they are perfect just the way they are.