I had an interesting experience.
I was watching my little 20-month-old, Isabella, trying to get into her mommy’s low heeled shoes the other day. It was an interesting sight. She was actually pretty good at it, as long as she was standing still. A great big grin kept coming across her face every time she’d get Janet’s shoes on, even though she was simply standing there in the closet.
One small problem kept cropping up, though. Whenever she tried to move, she’d fall over. After awhile, she got a little bit better and could actually take a couple steps before she would fall over. However, when it was all said and done, she just simply couldn’t manage to walk in her mommy’s very big, much vaunted shoes.
She was just not able to fill them… at least not yet.
As odd as it sounds, the experience of my little sweetie pie followed shortly after the newly appointed CEO of McDonalds indicated that his predecessor’s shoes were going to be hard to fill, but he was going to do his best to do so.
I wonder why it is that we all try to fill other people’s shoes. Whether it is the shoes of our fathers or mothers, our professional predecessors, a statesman like Colin Powell, or any other, I wonder what it is that sparks our desire to try to fill the shoes that somebody else has been wearing for his or her entire life.
It’s actually about the same if the shoes turn out to be too small. Whether the shoes are constricted, as they were about a month ago for my little boy, and the shoes end up hurting, or the shoes are too big, it always works out the same. In the one case, you can’t fill someone else’s shoes. And in the other case, somebody else’s shoes turn out to be too tight or too small.
Well, if we fall over when we try to fill shoes too big for us and our feet hurt when we try to fill shoes too small for us, it really only leaves one option: simply wear the shoes we are meant to wear in the size we are meant to fill.
I happened to see Forrest Gump the other night when Forrest’s mother, played by Sally Fields, tells Forrest, played by Tom Hanks, that we all have a destiny. When Forrest asked her what his destiny was, she simply replied that it was up to him to find out.
Each of us has our own particular pair of shoes to wear. Each of us has our own size we need to fill. And each of us has our own destiny to live out. Our life-long discovery is not how we fill other people’s shoes — big or small; it’s how we should wear our own — preferably with grace, comfort and style.
Life allows us the opportunity to admire, respect, and appreciate the good in others — without envy or pridefulness. When we seek to become more or better tomorrow than who we are today, we naturally end up cloaked in our own garments and wearing our own shoes.
It’s only natural that Isabella wants to fill her Mommy’s shoes. However, when Isabella finds her own size, when we find our own turf, when we create our own life — filling someone else’s shoes just won’t seem so important anymore.