November 3 was a brisk Thursday morning in Scottsdale, Arizona. But when I walked past these empty soles on the edge of Camelback Road after my workout at the gym, I felt an eerie sensation. It was almost like learning a close friend had died or vanished.
My focus shifted immediately away from our cooler-than-average temperatures in the Valley of the Sun. I felt compelled to pay tribute to the remnants of a life well lived. To stop and take this photo and–three days later–write a story about what I saw and felt in those moments. Because that is what I do.
What would provoke someone to leave behind a pair of decent canvas shoes on the side of the road in such an orderly fashion? Did they suddenly outlive their usefulness? Perhaps they were simply an extra pair a homeless person could no longer carry. Or the sensible shoes were forgotten by someone who waited for a bus and was ready to advance to the next station in life.
For my storytelling purposes they are a metaphor for the sense of displacement many of us feel in our country. We’ve been pushed to jump out of our shoes from the criminal escape antics of our past president and the barrage of political ads spewing venom through our devices. Whatever the case, we wait for the next shoe to drop as we anticipate the outcome of the mid-term elections.
If you follow my blog, you know I am a positive person. Generally. I’m thankful for the beauty of nature that surrounds me and the quieter life my husband and I have carved into the desert landscape.
But as a nation we teeter on the precipice of despair. The future of democracy–as I’ve known it for my 65 years and 181 years before that–is definitely on the ballot this coming Tuesday.
Tom and I have already voted. Nearly two weeks ago. I checked the boxes alongside the names of only those who will protect our democracy. Not the high-profile election deniers in Arizona running for senator, governor, secretary of state, and attorney general. We need to believe them when they tell us they wouldn’t necessarily respect and honor the will of the majority of the people.
If you live in the U.S., be sure to vote on or before Tuesday. When you do, I hope you will support those who uphold our beloved U.S. Constitution.
Otherwise, I fear that the close friend who disappeared without their shoes is actually the democracy we once loved before we allowed it to vanish.