When The Shoe Fits
Once there was a man who lived in a shoe. How he arrived there makes for a very interesting story. Once day while wandering through the woods, a man named Alvin came upon a bear. The bear stopped our Alvin and informed him that he was the guardian of these woods. So what was Alvin doing in this area? Alvin replied that he was on his way to see his cousin who lived some distance away.
“Why do you want to see your cousin,” the bear asked?
“Because she is such a friendly soul,” Alvin replied, “and I have need of her friendship at this time in my life.”
“So you require friendship,” repeated the bear?
“Yes I do” answered Alvin. “ I have become fearful in my old age and friendship is what I seem to be craving right now.”
“And why your cousin and not someone else,” the bear went on?
“Because I know her” replied Alvin, “and hse has always been there for me in the past.”
“Very well then,” the bear exclaimed, “you may carry on your way.” And he stepped aside to let Alvin pass.
Suddenly, another creature came racing into the scene, carrying a big stick and waving it menacingly at Alvin. Alvin stepped back to avoid being struck, but not in time apparently, and was knocked unconscious with one well aimed blow.
“Why did you do that” asked the bear, astonished at what had just happened?
“Because he is not one of us” the creature replied, “and I was certain he wanted to hurt you.”
“Hurt me” the bear repeated, somewhat incredulous?
“Yes” the creature went on, “that is what I thought he might do.”
“This is a sad day indeed,” the bear admonished, “when someone like this can’t come through our woods without being attacked.”
“I know” the creature replied, “but he looked so dangerous to me.”
Alvin, still groggy from the blow he had received, was now struggling to his feet. The creature who struck him was nowhere to be seen. The bear had chased him off in order to avoid another confrontation and took it upon himself to nurse Alvin back to consciousness.
“Well,” said the bear, “I see you are coming around. I was worried about you there for a moment. It was hard to tell how badly you were hurt judging from the bump on your head. But I see that you are well again, so I can return to my den here in the woods.”
“Sir bear,” Alvin interrupted, “I am not at all that well. Could you help me perhaps find my way out of these woods?”
“Certainly,” the bear answered. “But first I’ll have to run home for some provisions. This may be a long journey.”
While he waited for the bear to return, Alvin noticed a few things going on around him. Some squirrels had stopped their work to observe him while a few birds flew by slowly to also take notice. “Oh my, Alvin thought, “I wonder why all these creatures are so interested in me?”
Suddenly there was a great commotion nearby. The bear was struggling with the creature who had assaulted Alvin earlier, and the bear most definitely had the advantage.
“Away with you, damn fool,” the bear yelled. “Do you not know when to stop with your incessant accusations? This man is no threat to anyone. Now be on your way.” And the creature left, duly chastised and shamed for his previous behavior.
The bear now turned his attention to Alvin and showed him the food he had brought along for their journey through the woods together. Alvin hesitated. He was unsure he wanted to proceed out of the woods, but equally unsure he wanted to stay.
“You are wavering” the bear commented.
“Yes I am” Alvin answered. “Sometimes I am very unsure of myself. I was certain I wanted to go to my cousin’s home, but now I am not so sure.
“What do you wish to do,” the bear asked?
“Well, I believe I wish to sty here with you for a while.
“Oh, and why is that,” the bear wanted to know?
“Because you are so friendly and helpful and you saved me from that creature who just wanted to attack me again.”
“I see,” the bear mused, “but how is it that this should change your plans?”
“Well I’m not sure I’ll find that type of friendship where I’m going,” was the answer.
“I see,” the bear continued. “If you stay here you’ll have me as a friend, but if you carry on with your original plan you are unsure what will be there for you?”
“That’s right,” Alvin asserted. “I have never been very sure of myself and that is why I seek out others to help me make my decisions.”
“So you believe that if you stayed here, I would help you with your decisions,” the bear repeated?
“I guess so!” Alvin replied. “I guess that is what I keep looking for.”
“But then how will you know what is right for you,” the bear then asked?
“You will know,” Alvin answered.
“I will know what is best for you” the bear repeated?
Now Alvin was getting confused. For every point he made about staying in these woods, the bear had a question that forced him to think it through further. Eventually Alvin realized, he was thinking in circles.
“This is crazy,” he thought. “I keep coming back to the same place and I keep getting knocked down by my own arguments.”
“There you go” the bear jumped in, “you are beginning to unravel your own circumstance. I have no answers for you really. I can only be your friend. And no one else has answers for you either. They can only listen and offer their best advice. But in the end, it is you who must decide. It is you who has to account to you.”
“Yes, yes I see” Alvin interrupted. “I see how I always bring myself into this circle of confusion and make myself dizzy in the process. I have decided not to go further for the time being. I have decided to stay here in these woods for now, if you will allow it. But I’m not asking you to tell me what to do, just guide me as I struggle with my own issues.”
“This I can do,” the bear asserted. “These woods are very good for self-contemplation. I can however, assist you in finding suitable accommodation while you stay here. Come with me now and I will show something that my meet your needs for this purpose.”
Off the two of them went in a direction the bear had indicated. Up ahead, in a clearing, stood a very large shoe.
“Now this shoe used to belong to a giant of a man who came through here may years ago. He left it here as apparently it caused him some pain,” the bear explained. “Over the years a number of creatures have lived in this shoe while they came and went about their lives while residing in these woods. But no one lives here at the moment. You are welcome to move in if you like, and then I’ll be on my way.”
“Thank you,” Alvin replied graciously, while looking the shoe over. Yes, he could make a home of this he thought. Unusual by most standards of accommodations, but then again, why not? He would have a home and he could readily see how the shoe would fit his life at the moment. He had nowhere else to go really, so a solitary abandoned shoe might fit his needs perfectly.
As Alvin prepared to move into the shoe, the raging creature from earlier came by again. He was still waving that stick and threatening to strike once more.
Alvin looked at the creature and whispered: “I don’t need you right now. I have decided to stay. But thanks anyway for the offer.”
The creature, bewildered for the moment, put down his stick and began to laugh. “You are going to live in that shoe,” the creature blurted.”
“Yes I am” Alvin answered, undeterred. “Does this concern you in any way?”
“Well yes,” the creature went on. “All the others who have lived here eventually went mad and then they left and were never heard from again.”
“Well I do not intend to go mad,” Alvin stated. “I intend to survive. I intend to find myself and be happy with who I am. So if you’ll excuse me, I’ll move into my shoe now and I’ll thank you not to bother me again.”
“Oh for certain I won’t” the creature exclaimed, “for the next time I see you, you will surely be mad.”
“That may be so” Alvin replied, “but I’ll be mad in my own home and that will be just fine by me.”
Just then, the bear reappeared and the creature quickly ran off. “Oh don’t worry about him” the bear stated. “He says those things to everyone who comes here. What he doesn’t know won’t hurt him.”
“What do you mean,” Alvin asked?
“Well you see,” the bear went on, “there was a time, long ago, when that creature first arrived here, that his life was in disarray also. But, eventually, he found a role for himself here, and that settled the matter of his looking for a purpose.”
“And what is his role,” Alvin asked?
“To instill fear,” was the reply, “and to challenge all those who come here to find themselves. You see, if this task were too easy, then most people would stay lost. But when it is challenging, then most people seem to succeed.”
“I see,” Alvin reflected. “So when I first came here earlier, I was lost, and with the help of that creature, I am beginning to find myself?”
“That is correct,” the bear responded. “In life, there are two things that we all require. First, there is friendship, for that is a must. Without friendship we would not even try at life. But second, there must be adversity. For without adversity, we might never find out what we are truly capable of. You yourself are beginning to shine in the face of adversity.”
“I see,” Alvin reflected, now beginning to understand. “Perhaps I knew this all along, but am only beginning to awaken to it?”
“Sometimes we need to be conked on the head to wake up to certain truths,” the bear advised.
“Well I’ll certainly keep all of this in mind,” Alvin stated as he paused to reflect further on what the bear had just shared.
From that time on, Alvin realized he had two friends in those woods. One, was obviously the friendly bear. But the other, he realized, was that wild petulant creature, who could come charging at him at any moment. “This,” he thought “is certainly an interesting place. I believe I’ll stay for a while and see what else I can learn.” And with that said, Alvin headed toward his shoe. This would be the home he needed for now and he would stay as long as that was necessary.
And that is how it came to pass that our young man, Alvin, came to live in a shoe.