Eyes are closed. Water spills over shoulders. Steam spills over the top of the shower curtain. If there is a God, this is his Temple. One of life’s simplest and most magnificent pleasures.
I turn up the heat, and just stand, arms down, shoulders curled and leaning forward – I breathe. Snippets of Mary Oliver leak in…”But mostly I just stand…in the middle of the world, breathing in and out. Life so far doesn’t have any other name but breath and light, wind and rain.”
I step out. Towel dry. One eye is on the clock. Can’t miss the 6:16 to get to an 8 am meeting in Midtown.
I pull on knee length socks. It was less than 30 seconds, 30 years ago, but his words still bite. The wound still fresh, the cuts over something so small yet replayed thousands of times since and triggered each morning when I slide on my socks. “Over-the-calf socks are crude,” he said. “One shouldn’t see the hair on your legs. And polish your shoes.” Crude.
I button shirt. Slide on pants. Loop belt. Tie tie.
I grab shoes, set them down and lean over.
I pull on both ends of the laces on the left shoe.
Replace lace? Never find a replacement in time.
Swap to different shoes? There’s another pair waiting four feet away. Do it Dave, do it. For some inexplicable reason, I can’t do it.
I tug on the ends of the laces to get them even. One end of the shoe lace has a plastic aiglet, the other does not.
6:04 am. 7 min walk to the station
I begin to thread the aiglet-less end through one hole, then the second and get to the third. It won’t thread. I twist it and try it again. No go.
I wet my finger, twist it again, and I’m able to thread it. A sweat bead accumulates on the brow.
I have less than two inches of lace on each side. I’m careful not to rip what’s left – I gingerly tie my shoe.
I look down at my handiwork, there’s a nice bow on the right, and something resembling a newly hatched larvae on my left.
6:08 am. Gotta go. Gotta go.
7:20 am. I’m walking to the office cross-town. I’m off, my equilibrium is off kilter. While the right marches forward, the left foot is sloppy. Brilliant. And then Genius, what if the lace rips again, then what?
I favor my right foot, being careful not to put undue pressure on the lace on the left.
I limp across town.
I’m wrapping up the breakfast meeting, it’s with a group of top performers.
Before we break, I’m posed a question about the business: “Dave, what are you most worried about?”
I pause, wiggle the foot in my left shoe under the table, and smile…
If they only knew….