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What's the most important body part?

Chloe Scott is a member of the Lake Oswego Adult Community Center.


Your face is your fortune, they say. You are what you eat, they say. Your hair is your crowning glory, they tell you. Well, I’ll let you in on a secret — it’s none of the above.

What really matters is your feet. Yes, those humble, under appreciated and frequently under cared for five-toed feet. Stand up and be counted! Stand on your own two feet! Stand for office! Stand out.

Feet are at the bottom of everything. Feet are amazing. Think how they carry you around the world every day, sometimes just to the grocery store, out on walks with the dog or into the yard for gardening. Sometimes, perhaps, to more exotic destinations, Timor or Thailand or even Timbuktu on travel trips.

And all on only 26 small bones, 33 joints and more than 100 muscles, tendons and ligaments, beautifully organized and structured to support not only your weight but an additional 50 pound backpack or more. And, admit it, most of the time your feet are taken for granted and forgotten except when they hurt.

In their natural state feet may be forgotten, because in their natural state they mostly don’t hurt. By going barefoot and walking on varied surfaces the foot stays flexible and becomes heavily calloused on the bottom, which protects it quite well. But since it’s not really practical for us to go barefoot outdoors and we are almost always walking on paved surfaces, we stuff them into shoes, compressing all those little bones and sometimes rubbing the heels into blisters.

Women’s shoes especially are notorious for being hard on the feet, what with those outrageous spike heels and built-up soles. But worst of all are the beautiful satin, hard-toed slippers worn for ballet.

Born in England, I studied ballet at a professional studio in London. As a child and then as a teenager, I spent long hours at the ballet barre and the slow, strengthening exercises day after day gradually integrated balance, control and flexibility. At first, as beginners, we were not give toe shoes.

Only after our legs and feet had grown enough and were capable of supporting the weight and stress that is put upon them were we instructed in the coveted pointe work. How excited we youngsters were! Real toe shoes! Now we would be real dancers. And a few years later, our toes, bloodied and blistered, wrapped in cotton, taped up and almost always distressed one way or another — we began to dance.

This was all a long time ago. Am I remembering and dramatizing? No, I’m not. I know because now, 65 years later, my feet are a mess. Without going into gory details, my poor old toes are crumpled and gnarly and I have a terrible time buying shoes. But never mind, they are still working despite all they’ve been through and they still carry me around the world.

All this is to say: Don’t underestimate your feet. Be good to them; keep them happy. Take your shoes off and walk barefoot through wet grass. Wiggle your toes in the sand. ‘Wade in the water, chillun’, cold or not! It will do wonders for you — keep you moving, dancing, exploring and lively.

Take care of your feet and perhaps they’ll take you on the path of glory or the road to destiny or the way less traveled and you will discover wisdom. And, remember always, the journey is more important than the destination.




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  • 11 Jul 2014

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