One day this week as I was leaving work, a young man, wearing slacks and sporting a backpack came running by. I don't see that many joggers at this time of day, much less ones dressed as he was. However, it was neither the time of day or his attire that drew my attention. The most unusual thing about this man's actions was the fact that he had his pants legs rolled up and was wearing no shoes or socks.
The temperature outside was well down in the 30's and this guy was running completely barefooted. Furthermore, he wasn't running on the grass, but on the hard, cold pavement. Furthermore still, he wasn't running on the part of the road that was swept clean of debris by the automobile traffic, but he was running along the edge where sand, rocks, glass and steel belt treads collect. I ride Kevlar belted tires and I don't even venture into that area of the road. Every once in a while he would stop, brush off his feet and keep running.
I stood there and watched him until he disappeared into the distance. Thinking this was the last I would see of this unusual stranger, I continued on to my bike and readied it for the commute home. As I was riding, you can imagine my astonishment and excitement when I gazed ahead and saw the barefooted jogger in front. After a couple of blocks I caught up with him and as I pulled alongside asked the question that had been burning in mind since I first laid eyes upon him...
"so, I'm just curious, are you running barefooted out of desperation or desire?"
He chuckled softly at my inquiry and responded...
"desire. It's actually more efficient."
I lied and told him I understood and then continued on my way. As I rode, I couldn't help but think that this barefooted young man was not much different than myself. I'm sure there have been a many a motorist that pass me as I ride my bike in the heat, cold, rain, wind, sleet or snow that have wondered the same thing of me, do I ride out of desperation or desire. I'm sure it's equally as hard for them to envision giving up their atmosphere controlled cars and riding a bike to work as it is for myself to consider taking off my shoes and running.
We have a natural tendency to look at things that are unfamiliar to us and come up with a plethora of reasons why not.
Running barefooted in the cold will cause your feet to get frost bit.
Running barefoot on the hard unforgiving road is hard on your joints.
Running barefoot in trash will cause you to cut your feet and suffer an infection.
We are quickly able to dismiss the unfamiliar as ludicrous and those who engage in it as idiots. As a result, we miss out on some amazing experiences because we don't have the courage to take our shoes off.