Monday, February 11, 2002

without looking, describe you shoes. in detail. how many inches long, high, and wide are they? What kind of material lines the back of their tongues? take out a piece of paper and sketch the patterns that marks the soles (no peeking).
How did you do? When I picture my shoes in my head, I can conjure a snapshot or two from different angles that my memory has recorded, but I can't sustain any of these pictures to construct the shoes in much detail. Even if I were to study my shoes for years and years, until I could hold and sustain a picture of my shoes in my memory long enough to exhibit their details, I would not have anything more than a somewhat-reliable still. I might reconstruct some features incorrectly, distort certain points. What's more, I would at best have in that still picture a rough approximation of my shoes at a frozen point in time--I wouldn't have shoes that move, that walk, that go on and off my feet, that touch asphalt and grass and carpet.
Here my meditation partner Descartes asks me: How then, can you be sure you put on the same shoes every morning?
I have no good answer, except for a vague feeling of protest. Why would I want to be sure that I was putting on the same shoes every morning?