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Lost Spirit of the Barefooter

May 28, 2011

A poem from SBL member Tim Mills.

(Tim now has his own blog at Nature’s Child.)

      Lost Spirit of the Barefooter

Close your eyes and think back to your childhood..
Do you remember the lazy barefoot days of summer?
A world of freedom and wonder. Nature was still a
magical world, as you caught frogs at the pond,
or chased fireflies in the night. Remember
the squishy feel of mud between your toes,
or the chilly blanket of dew on the grass in the morning?

Times of joy and laughter. Splashing your feet
in the puddles on rainy days. You could dig your feet
into the sand at the playground, and feel it
between your toes. The world was an innocent and warm,
welcoming place. You could climb any tree you could reach,
or just lie on your back watching clouds and finding
the funny shapes they had. The troubles of the world
seemed so far away.

Going barefoot was just plain fun. You didn’t imagine
a million things out to hurt you. If you lived near woods,
that was you private place to play. Just walking was a
magical experience, as your feet encountered things
like moss, fallen leaves, grass and whatever else was there.
A little dirt was no big deal, it would come off in the bath.
You didn’t need a fishing license, just a rod
and some worms you dug out of your back yard.
You sat at the water’s edge with your friends,
laughing and telling stories while you waited for a bite,
swishing your toes in the water. If it was hot,
you might even jump in and go for a swim.

Deep in the spirit of the barefooter, is the place
where these memories live. Barefoot living
isn’t about politics, or big ideas. It’s about
the simple things in life. When you are barefoot,
you experience life at its fullest. Freedom is a
longing of all people, and going barefoot embodies
freedom and innocences at their best. Yet today,
our children are seeing this slip away. Lost to money,
to fear, to the ideas of a dangerous world, waiting
to devour them. What are we leaving for them?
Will they ever know childhood as it was meant to be?
Are the images of Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn
to be forever lost in the pages of history?

Maybe, just maybe, there is a way back! Let childhood be more
than just a group of years everyone lives through.
Rekindle the magic and the wonder that built
those special memories all those years ago.
Leave the shoes and sock home. Go barefoot!
Let your children or grandchildren run free again,
with the grass tickling their toes. Rediscover the magic
of the lost spirit of the barefooter. Be free again!
I think you will find your life with be richer
for the experience.

We in the SBL know; that’s why we are barefooters. That
is what this is really all about, a chance to be free
and live life to its fullest!


Barefooting novels

April 12, 2011

Have you ever read a novel where the hero is barefoot for a while but in the end is “saved” by some fortuitous footwear? As a daily rail commuter I do a lot of reading and in the late 90s became so frustrated by stories like these I decided to write my own!


Being a science fiction buff, it was only natural to put my barefoot characters into such an environment, in what started as a short story exploring some of my ponderings about the nature of space and time. Over the ensuing months and years I kept adding more, taking it forward through several generations of barefooters until it finally reached such a size that my thoughts turned to the possibility of having it published as a novel. After much perseverance that dream became reality, with Barefoot Times released in 2004 under the Zeus Publications imprint.

Of course the writing bug, having caught me, couldn’t be lightly turned aside, so in the following years came more barefoot adventures in Call of the Delphinidae and The Mind of the Dolphins. My latest work, Cry of the Bunyips, continues the series and is currently in the publisher’s production queue awaiting release later this year.

My aim in writing is to make the barefooting an integral part of the whole, an additional way for the characters to experience and interact with their environment. While the shod might see, hear, taste and smell the worlds around them, the barefooters feel them too through the soles of their feet, be it hot sand, gritty rock or the delightful coolness of dew-laden grass. Using their toes as an extra set of fingers provides additional traction when the going gets tough, and they even occasionally find themselves in situations where being barefoot is perhaps unwise but survive nonetheless.

A radio interviewer once asked me if all my hero characters were barefoot and all the villains shod, but real life is never that simple and neither are my books. Not only are there evil barefooters and good shoe-wearers, but the distinction between hero and villain can be just as nebulous. Expect the unexpected and you won’t be disappointed.

If I’ve whet your appetite, visit to find out more about the series and see some of the feedback I’ve received. The three published books are available as either physical trade paperbacks or PDF eBooks, with links on each book’s home page to the publisher’s on-line bookshop.

New Blog

March 27, 2011

I’m now blogging at Ahcuah. Feel free to follow me there.

Happy 4th of July

July 4, 2010

Happy Barefoot 4th of July

Happy Valentine’s Day

February 14, 2010

Resisting Social Pressure

January 26, 2010

One of the troubles many barefooters have is the reaction of society. There are all sorts of subtle and not-so-subtle ways that people let us know that we are not living up to expectations. Also, as social beings, it is built into our genes (to some extent) to respond to that pressure. That pressure is important to all of us getting along. It is part of being social animals. In some sense, it helps develop and maintain our sense of what is right and wrong.

However, that social pressure works indiscriminately, hitting the useful as well as the mere conventional. We are all aware of teens obsessing about the latest fad of the day. And we are aware that those who resist it are labeled “nerds” or “Goths”, or whatever, and put under intense pressure to be just like everybody else. Yet, it is so often the unconventional that leads to everyday progress.

Barefooting is actually a way to resist some of that unreasonable social pressure. It’s a good way to train ourselves to analytically look at what we do and why, and to help ensure that there are actually good reasons for our behaviors.

This is not a new concept. Back in Roman times, Cato the Younger was well known for going barefoot along the streets of Rome. Here is how it was put by Plutarch in his “Lives”:

Καθόλου δὲ τοῖς βίοις καὶ τοῖς ἐπιτηδεύμασιν ὁ Κάτων τὴν ἐναντίαν ὁδὸν οἰόμενος δεῖν βαδίζειν ὡς οὖσι φαύλοις καὶ μεγάλης δεομένοις μεταβολῆς, ἐπεὶ πορφύραν ἑώρα τὴν κατακόρως ἐρυθρὰν καὶ ὀξεῖαν ἀγαπωμένην, αὐτὸς ἐφόρει τὴν μέλαιναν. πολλάκις δ’ ἀνυπόδητος καὶ ἀχίτων εἰς τὸ δημόσιον προῄει μετ’ ἄριστον, οὐ δόξαν ἐκ ταύτης τῆς καινότητος θηρώμενος, ἀλλὰ ἐθίζων ἑαυτὸν ἐπὶ τοῖς αἰσχροῖς αἰσχύνεσθαι μόνοις, τῶν δὲ ἄλλων ἀδόξων καταφρονεῖν.


Being dissatisfied with them, Cato would deliberately go against the grain of the attitudes of his times. For instance, when a particularly bright hue of purple became all the rage, he would instead wear the darkest shade possible. Also, he would often go out about the streets barefoot and without his tunic. He was not looking for notoriety by doing so, but was teaching himself to be ashamed of only that which is truly shameful, and to ignore popular opinion otherwise.

So, if you would like to go barefoot more, but are really concerned about what others might think, you can take some advice from Cato.

Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose

December 8, 2009

From 1974:

Dear Ann Landers:

I’m a male high school student, age 18, and I happen to enjoy kicking off my shoes and going barefoot. I never wear shoes when I’m at home and I remove them often when I’m in public.

I can’t explain why, but I really get turned on running barefoot across parks and lawns, especially on rainy summer days when people are walking their dogs. I know this isn’t everyone’s bag, but it happens to be mine.

What I can’t understand is the hostility that some people show to my lifestyle. I’ve been reprimanded several time because of this. One teacher telephones my mother to discuss “the problem.”

I think it’s ridiculous. After all, who am I hurting? I graduate in June and I would love to walk up on the stage in my stocking feet and receive my diploma. What kind of reaction do you think it would create? — Shoeless Joe

Dear Joe:

After the streaking that’s gone on all over the country, a guy in stocking feet wouldn’t even be noticed.

Enjoy yourself, Bub, but don’t step on any glass, rusty nails, or whatever people might step on in parks where dogs are walked.

The Goal of the Society for Barefoot Living

November 29, 2009

In some sense, our main goal is to put ourselves out of business.

There is no Society for Bareheaded Living. There is no Society for Bare-armed Living. There is no Society for Wearing Shorts. There is no reason for such groups. People who choose to dress in any of those fashions simply are not discriminated against.

The last of those hypotheticals actually illustrates the issue fairly well. In the 1950s and 1960s, no grown man in the United States would wear shorts, certainly not out and about. Yet, in the 1970s and beyond, shorts-wearing men became increasingly common, and uncommented upon (despite a plethora of skinny and/or hairy specimens). Some of that may have been influenced by such shows as Magnum P.I., but still, the conversion took place without men in shorts being tossed from grocery stores. Maybe a few fancy restaurants still have problems with the shorted, but in general, anybody can go into most restaurants these days wearing shorts, without anybody batting an eye.

That can be contrasted with the situation going barefooted. Stores have signs that say “No shirt, No shoes, No service.” Libraries often have codes of conduct that require shoes (and a shirt). While, if challenged, they will say that is it for safety concerns, it is hard to imagine a location safer for bare feet than a library. What, they’re afraid we’ll get paper cuts on our toes?

So, we’d like to put ourselves out of business. We’d like to see going barefoot generate as much controversy as wearing shorts (that is, going bare-legged). If that were the case, we could fold up our tents and go home.


September 2, 2009

This is the official blog of the Society for Barefoot Living.

The Society for Barefoot Living is an organization of people who love going barefoot pretty much everywhere, all the time.

The purpose of this blog is to point out and comment upon issues or stories impacting barefooters. We’ll also use it to provide information helpful to those who might like to try more serious barefooting.

So, for now, welcome!

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