I picked up the shoes I slipped off last night, and wondered how long it takes to untie them, put them on, and tie them again.
I found the stopwatch on my phone, and touched the word ‘start.’ That word triggered a memory of an old plastic stopwatch we used to time our son’s progress at a track meet fifteen years ago. That recollection led to the realization that we used three separate devices to track minutes back then: a stopwatch for track meets, a timer for the cookies in the oven, and a watch to know the current hour. Thinking about each device I recalled track meets in the heat, successes and failures with Christmas cookies, hectic and overlapping school and work schedules. My flowing river of thoughts went around a bend to the philosophical. Did having everything on one device make time more significant in my life, or less?
Glancing at my phone, I saw thirty seconds had elapsed. I reset the stopwatch for the shoe experiment.
It took me forty-five seconds to untie these shoes, put them on and tie them again. I had fifteen seconds left in my designated minute to stand, slowly shift my weight from my left foot to my right and back, to feel the support of the ground, to close my eyes and take a deep breath in and let my shoulders drop on the exhale.
In that moment, fifteen seconds of focused attention on my feet felt like a long time. In reality, it was fifteen seconds, a small and seemingly insignificant amount of time. When I opened my eyes and stepped forward, my stride felt lighter and springier, even in those shoes.
What new pattern might develop if I used fifteen seconds of focused attention on my feet every day?
– Take fifteen seconds every time you put on shoes (of any kind) to shift your weight from your left foot to your right and back again, feel the support of the ground, close your eyes and take a deep breath in, letting you shoulders drop on the exhale.