Can you live with one pair of shoes?

Benjamin Life on Planet Earth

I recently returned from a 10 day pilgimage to the Holy Land, and I will post more about that trip as I have time to sort through the experiences. Part of the packet of information given to me in preparation for the trip included travel tips from the 1920’s. Regarding what you need to pack, the author suggested that you should prepare yourself for your steamship voyage with these essentials:
“Take two strong suits of clothes, one heavy, the other light. Two suits of underwear, all wool, one heavy the other light. A strong pair of shoes, welll broken-in, light pair of slippers. A Panama soft hat, and a felt hat and a Steamer Cap.” (from A.F. Futterer, Palestine Speaks, 1931).

I have to admit that while two wool suits were totally sufficient for a long sea voyage, I took more than that for a ten day trip. However, I did manage to survive the entire time with only one pair of shoes. I thought that I was cutting things extremely close by just taking one pair of shoes, and was pretty proud of myself for being able to survive in such extreme simplicity. Apparently the seasoned traveler of the 1930’s took it for granted that he only needed one pair of shoes – and a pair of slippers for the evening.

pair of shoes

As I return to my regular life, I am almost disappointed to find the array of shoes and clothes in my closet. Modern life is so smothered with product propganda that we have gotten to the point where we can barely imagine facing daily life without a whole array of footwear specially designed to cope with every surface on earth, with every aspect of human life, and with every one of our moods:

Dress shoes, casual shoes, slip-on and loafers;
Tennis shoes, running shoes, driving mocs, and hikers;
Walking shoes, trekking shoes, leather boots and sandals;
Boat shoes, rubber boots, snow boots and chukas.

This whole array of footgear is all for the man who does not go running, who does not play tennis, and who has never owned a boat. If you happen to pick up a hobby, you could not possibly do so without buying the necessary shoes: bowling shoes, biking shoes, ski boots, rock-climbing shoes, hiking boots, hunting boots, football cleats, water shoes, swim flippers, basketball shoes, snow shoes, ect, etc, etc. This is all just for men, for whom one online shoe store offers 13,744 items. I am not even talking about the styles of shoes with which intelligent and reasonable women torture their own feet (more than 28,000 items for the ladies!)

Simplicity of life in the Modern world takes the form of a constant battle against an overwhelming tide of products, which distorts our idea of what is necessary for life. I am an ordinary man who does not need to impress anyone, who lives a simple life, and who can always wear black shoes. I also happen to have only one single pair of feet, yet I have no fewer than four pairs of black shoes in my closet.

I could certainly survive with just one pair of shoes….
and a good pair for Sundays…
and some hiking shoes….
and sandals for summer…