If you could peer beneath the tops of my shoes into what is underneath but not all the way to my feet because that would just be weird, you would see socks that don’t match. The only exception to that fact is when I purchase a pair of brand new socks – for that time between first wearing and first washing – my socks match. Both daughters, now grown, are the same way (sorry to rat you both out so publicly girls!) Now please know that we aren’t such barbarians that our socks aren’t coordinated in some way. For example, if we wear an orange polka dot sock it will likely be paired with a multi-colored striped sock that features orange or a solid orange sock or on a really daring day perhaps a lime green one will do. There is no end to the combinations of socks we now have to choose from! You are so welcome, girls!
Why, you may wonder, do you not have matching socks? Well the first reason is because clothes dryers are evil, in that there can be no doubt. They cause socks to disappear, clothes to shrink and actually wrinkle non-wrinkle fabric! So there is that.
And then there is the real reason that it all began – the not matching of socks and instead throwing clean ones into a large “sock basket” to be rummaged through at some later date – practice. It began in the early 90’s. I was a young mother to an active toddler, a baby who thought sleep was overrated, living half way across the country from family (Ok – NC to Indiana not exactly half way across the US but you get it), teaching part-time, taking graduate school classes with a spouse who was dealing with all of the same – including work and grad school (we aren’t bright people!) We were busy and often overwhelmed. Matching socks became less and less important.
Over time I came to embrace the sock basket as a symbol of my attempt to let go of unnecessary things in order to try and focus on more significant matters (or maybe that is what I told myself to avoid admitting that perhaps I just didn’t want to match socks…I continue to choose the nobler explanation – it suits me better!). It wasn’t easy this, “not matching of socks” as I was raised in a textiles family in which socks were matched and further one just didn’t do that. My goodness!
For my girls, mismatched socks became a kind of “signature”. Friends and family would often comment about their choice of footwear, thinking as they did, that it was just some fad the girls had latched on to (it wasn’t a fad then but I hear it is now. Who knew we were trendsetters!) – not knowing that their mother had not only allowed them to pick their socks from the basket but encouraged it, since they were mere babes!
This letting go of matched socks may seem small and perhaps it is but it has served me well. As life has changed and altered course over the years, as life is prone to do, I have had to learn to let go of other more significant practices, long held beliefs and understandings. After my first, second and third cancer diagnosis I had to let go of hair, and breasts and to confront my understanding of femininity, as well as the belief that I would remain a healthy adult until sometime in my 90’s. As the political landscape continues to shift I have had to reevaluate what it means to use my voice and ballot to reveal and pursue compassion and mercy. As my children have children I am faced with once again letting go of practices that don’t serve the next generation – excess, waste – plastic straws. As my parents age and face disease it requires the letting go of their permanence and has encouraged the formation of greater gratitude for the gift of them to the planet.
And so I wear my mismatched socks with gratitude for the lessons they continue to teach while looking for ways to remain open to the additional areas in my life that need letting go. And I ask, with a little help from my friends and through Divine leading, to be able to identify practices, thoughts and beliefs that could be creatively paired in ways that I have never imagined and the courage to embrace and to continue to discover the beauty of God’s topsy-turvy, mismatched world.