I have these amazing shoes. They're bone coloured and gorgeous and look just a little bit like they're from the 1940s. Of all my heels (and heaven knows I have a lot of shoes), they're my favourite. Their status as Most Favoured of All The Shoes is partly due to the fact that they are beautiful, and partly due to their being a gift from Adam, for graduating with my bachelor's degree — a feat that took me seven years, thanks to 33 months of co-op work term placements.
A month or so before I graduated, Adam and I had been wandering around downtown Victoria, when we both saw these shoes in the window of a little store on Lower Johnson (or LoJo, if you're from these parts). We crossed the street to admire them, and in minutes, I was trying them on, like Cinderella in her glass slippers. Then I saw the price tag and handed the shoes back; there was no way I could afford to spend $365 on a pair of shoes (after all, I had a degree I had to repay).
I didn't think of them after that, until the day before my convocation ceremony, when Adam handed me a gift. My jaw dropped when I lifted the shoes out of their box. They were mine! So, I did what anyone would do (or at least what I tend to do) with a possession so dear: I put them back in their box and didn't wear them.
They were way too special! I had to save them, so they wouldn't get ruined. After all, they were gorgeous and expensive: I didn't want to wreck them!
Now and then, I took them out of the box and cooed over them, admiring them. I even wore them once or twice, to special events, always returning them safely to their box immediately afterwards.
A couple of years ago, I had pulled them out to wear (for a special, one-off occasion) and noticed that the leather had begun to crack, on both shoes. Panicked, I brought them to the best cobbler in town, but he said there was no way to repair the leather. The best advice he could give me was to wear them and enjoy them, as much as possible. O the irony! Saving the shoes hadn't really saved them at all. It had robbed me of the enjoyment of them, of the experience of them. Well played, Universe.
Have you figured out the moral of my story? That saving beautiful precious things is not the best way to honour them or enjoy them? That beautiful shoes are not meant to expire, unworn, in a closet?
I wish I could say I learned my own lesson. This habit, unfortunately, is one that runs deep. I've done it with shoes, clothes — heck, eyeshadow and lipstick, even. Anything that I've deemed favourite has been
neglected saved away on a shelf. It comes from a mindset of scarcity, which is how I grew up. Always fearful that we wouldn't have enough (money, food, _________ [fill in the blank]), I'd hoard what I did have, squirrelling it away and taking immaculate care of it to keep it like new, for the inevitable circumstance of the future when I wouldn't be so lucky (and I really did think it was all about luck).
I'd love to say I've only stashed away tangible material things, but that's not true: I've also done it with my dreams and even with my marriage. If I really cared about something, if it is a thing I hold to be favourite, I have a tendency to hold back, lest I fail. Like my [non-existent] acting career (I spoke to exactly zero agents), I've been known to hold my dreams like I would an unscratched lottery ticket: If I scratch it, I lose the possibility of winning. I might lose. Better to not scratch it and risk the disappointment of not getting what I want.
The fly in the ointment, though, is that by not wearing them/doing it/scratching it, I for sure don't get what I'm gunning for. I may not lose, but I sure as hell don't win, either. Not failing is not the same as winning. Not failing at something you want is actually guaranteed to not win. This strategy doesn't leave much room for actually getting what I want; nor does it leave space for gratitude and abundance.
[Tweet "Not failing is not the same as winning."]
I've used this before, but it's too good to not include again: As Jim Carrey said, "You can fail at what you don't want, so you might as well take a chance on doing what you love."
Shoes — especially favourite ones — and relationships — especially important and dear ones — are not things to be placed on a shelf and admired. They're meant to be loved, used, worn and embraced. That's what they're made for, after all. That's what we're made for.
There are so many maxims we know that reflect the reality of a precious and brief life: "Life is short. Eat dessert first." We laugh, because it's funny and cute. But, it's also kind of true. If I get hit by a meteor, then what did I save all those amazing shoes for? When will I get the chance to follow the dreams I've put up on a shelf and create the intimacy in my marriage that I'm too afraid to risk?
It's a practice, for sure. Not a perfect. I keep thinking I've fixed this problem (because I gotta have a problem, right?) and then being all surprised when it shows up in a different place, a different time. Like curing a habit I've cultivated my entire life is a one-trick pony. Lucky for me, I get to practice this one all the time. After all, I have a lot of favourite shoes...
Does this resonate with you? What are you holding as fragile or too special to use, to try? Where in your life are you saving the best for last?