I once read a parable given by The Buddha, which went something like this:

To carpet the entire forest floor and make it soft for the foot is a great task. How much better to rendered the forest soft by the simple making and fastening of sandals to your feet! So too with the world: to change the world to your liking is a mighty task. How much better to simply change one’s perspective! **

This parable has been called to mind of late, realizing that I don’t need to wear shoes in Scottsdale. There’s simply no need: everything is either paved, or soft green grass (mostly just paved, though). I’d have to go quite out of my way to find something sharp enough to be a hazard to my feet.

Scottsdale, of course, is smack-dab in the middle of the Sonoran Desert–a place where Edward Abbey’s once remarked that “everything in it bites, stabs, sticks, stings or stinks”?

Whatever has come of this desert, it’s long gone. Past the point of being de-fanged and de-thorned. Spayed. Neutered. Declawed. Subdued and domesticated. It’s all be simply and duly crushed, removed, and paved over. Replaced with non-native grasses, palm trees and the perennially broken drip systems that make Scottsdale a veritable oasis.

Only, oasis implies a place where life has sprung up in the presence of water. Phoenix is quite the opposite: a place where life has sprung up in the absence of water. Pity the Colorado River’s abandoned journey to the Gulf of Mexico–all its life sucked out!

Phoenix has succeeded in carpeting the forest floor–or the desert, rather. What a task! What great effort!

And what great irony that we, in Phoenix, still wear shoes.

** – I paraphrase, and don’t recall the exact origins of this parable. Siddhartha? If anyone could help me place this, I’d be appreciative. My books are all in boxes scattered across three states.

About Mark Egge

Transportation planner-adjacent data scientist by day. YIMBY Shoupista on a bicycle by night. Bozeman, MT. All opinions expressed here are my own.
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One Response to Barefoot

  1. markegge says:

    Yes, I know. I’m part of the problem. Yes, I know. I shower with the Colorado River every morning. Point well taken…