If you’re like me, one of the first things I notice about people is their shoes. I’m not sure where this comes from. Maybe it’s due to the fact that as babies crawling around, we see a lot of what people wear on their feet.
Regardless, there is no doubting the role shoes play in our lives. They’re magical. We want to wear the shoes our heroes and role models wear so we can be them. Shoes transform us into those people.
Have dreams of playing in the NBA? You will wear Lebron’s, Curry’s or Jordan’s.
Have dreams figure skating? You’ll wear the skates of your favorite olympian.
Want to be in a rock band? You’ll wear same kicks as your favorite artist.
Growing up I was no different, except the shoes I wanted to wear were the ones my dad wore.
At nine years old I bought my first golf shoes with money I earned from picking up range balls and cleaning clubs in the locker room. Instead of buying new oxford models like my friends were getting, I proudly purchased brown wingtips with tassels. My dad wore a pair just like them. I can still hear the sound the metal spikes made on pavement as he walked across the parking lot.
When I was 11 years old I started playing recreation basketball and my dad took me to buy shoes. My teammates wore Air Jordan IVs and Reebok Pumps, but I asked my dad what he wore when he played. As we walked into the sporting goods store, he said he wore Converse All-Stars. Ten minutes later, I floated back home holding a brand new pair of teal high-top Chuck Taylors.
Friends at the golf course and kids on other teams in the rec league may have looked at me weirdly or made fun of my kicks, but when I laced up, I had confidence and belief. Like wielding Thor’s hammer, wearing the shoes gave me power. Even on the rare occasion my dad wasn’t there, the shoes were a constant reminder that I had a hero, my father.
By the time I possessed a license, there were several pairs of Topsiders and dress shoes shared between us. Wearing them was a reminder that we weren’t just sharing shoes but a name that carried principles and standards. We were sole mates.
After college, I started playing the mini-tours and was fortunate to receive golf shoes from FootJoy. At that point, on the golf course at least, the tables had turned and I gave a duplicate pair to my dad for him to wear around the links at Morehead City Country Club. Maybe I passed along some confidence to him as he stood over four-foot putts to win a skin off his buddies.
Today, the tradition has come full circle. I’ve seen both of my sons wear out the sneaks that mimic the style that I wear. Like a time machine, their shoes propel them into the future of who they want to be while simultaneously taking me back to my youth.
Sons, daughters, brothers, sisters and neighbors are looking for a sole mate. And they’re choosing you.
Wearing the shoes of parent, child, friend and coworker is an important responsibility because someone is walking in our shoes. The burden and opportunity of this fact is felt every time I lace up my Old Skools.
We all have big shoes to fill.