Solvitur Ambulando: An Ode to My Black Ballet Flats

Clearly I own enough shoes to open a shoe store! Perhaps not a large shop, but a smallish boutique, stocked with a wide range of styles and colours of footwear – all in Size 6.

I am eclectic in my tastes and have all manner of slippers, shoes and boots: tennis shoes, green suede booties, those colourful striped espadrilles I couldn’t resist because they reminded me of Picasso, pumps of various heel heights in so many shades; Roman sandals, divine yellow and black swirly pumps purchased on a whim in Toronto, and, my pride and joy, a pair of metallic Jimmy Choo pumps which danced with me at my daughter Marisa’s wedding. But so many are shoes in which I could not walk for any distance, or to be fair, even stand in for any length of time. They are to be worn for a couple of hours while sitting demurely at a party, legs crossed to show them off. But let’s face it, such invitations are few and far between at my stage of life.

But my go-to, hands-down favourite shoes are my modest, unassuming black leather ballet flats. These shoes have been re-heeled and re-soled multiple times. They replaced a nearly identical previous pair of black ballet flats, which I sadly parted with after they became so drenched and waterlogged during a trip to Toronto, that the squelchy shoes could not be salvaged.

Need I mention that I am not a believer in the throwaway society and I have a close and respectful relationship with my shoe repairman, a master craftsman. But even he had to shake his head sadly and pronounce that the last pair of shoes was truly used up and beyond repair.

I should say at this point that everyone who knows me would agree that I love to walk. Solvitur ambulando, St. Augustine said; or, “it is solved by walking”. It is my firm belief that there is no problem too large that cannot be solved by walking. Not to mention that it is one of the world’s most accessible and democratic exercises. There is no need for expensive equipment, pricey clothing or elaborate scheduling and it can be practiced anywhere.

For me, there is nothing like the mobile Zen state of walking, with breath and step in rhythm, while all the while observing my surroundings: maple trees, random buildings, or a stylish person. Cities in particular offer possibilities best basked in by walking, plodding, trudging, strolling. And yet, I do not have to go into all that the city offers: the bookstore, the quirky map or vintage clothing shop, or the Chinese vegetable vendor. Just to know they exist, and that I could visit them is enough, combined with the feeling of the urban pavement under my feet. Their very presence makes me feel glad to be alive.

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My Black Ballet Flats

Carol Sutherland-Brown has settled in Ottawa, after some time living in Europe and the Middle East. She is enjoying her new-found passion: writing about those moments that mattered to her: a certain face, experience, sound, sensation. Even a smashing pair of shoes! Her aim is to tease out those rare, small moments, to honour, amuse and entertain those who care to read them. She writes to remember her family and her friends. She writes to remember herself.
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