After reading the post about (essentially) perspective on our problems in life, I realized my comment would run long; so I thought I'd write my own post.

It's not that I necessarily disagree with the post at the above link, but I think there's also another side to the matter of imagining walking in another's shoes (or walking in our shoes when they hurt).

There's never a time in my life when I don't have a solid perspective of which of my troubles/problems generally fit in the "scheme of what's important in life" (and if anyone knew what has gone on in my life he'd easily see that it's not like my major and almost bizarre assortment of problems/troubles/worries are minor matters, by any means). BUT, so often there's absolutely nothing we can for others who have far worse, or far more, problems/sadness (etc.), no matter how much we care and wish we could do something to help or make someone feel a little better.

All that aside (and one way or another), though; sometimes our own shoes just hurt really, really, badly - no matter how much worse someone else's shoes (or even lack of shoes) hurts them. So, I don't know.... Sometimes it's not an either/or thing or a "better-perspective" thing.

Sometimes, when some shoes hurt badly enough all the awareness and perspective and empathy in the world aren't enough to make them hurt less. The longer we walk in them, and the more they hurt, we're bound to get tired and say something here or there. Even then, however, it doesn't mean we don't know how many others "have things so much worse". It just means we either need to say something in case someone else may help, in case it helps someone else understand why we "limp" as badly as we do, and/or that we've just had a positive, upbeat, and generally cheerful (and pretty much phony) demeanor for so long; we're just too tired to always keep that up after awhile.

It doesn't mean that when our own shoes are hurting so badly that we're limping or otherwise struggling along the road, we can't/don't also hurt for those who walk in other and worse shoes. I think most people can look around, see all those other people in all kinds of other "shoes", and maybe even limp their way to somehow try to help (if it's at all possible). In fact, speaking for myself, I can tell you that in spite of all the limping (or whatever else) I've had to do in my life; there's never a time when I'm not grateful that I have shoes, that I have feet, that those feet are not so beaten up that they can no longer feel pain and that, instead, they have become numbed by shoes that are so much more painful than my own are.

And, while it's true that we all have times when our shoes hurt here or there, or in one way or another; some shoes do hurt some feet more and/or longer and/or in a number of different ways; even when those ways wouldn't (for lack of a more appropriate choice of words) "win the prize for among the absolute worse shoes in life or in the world".

Sometimes, however, one of the most amazing things about human nature is that there will always be people who walk in shoes that hurt, walk in shoes that have absolutely destroyed their feet, walk in shoes that have numbed their feet, or in no shoes at all; and yet who hurt for others. And, there are people who walk in shoes that make them limp in varying degrees, that hurt a little here or there, or that haven't hurt their feet much at all; but who hurt for all of those in far worse shoes.

While there will always be people who are self-centered or immature or otherwise flawed in character, and who can't/don't/won't have empathy for others or proper perspective with regard to their own shoes; I don't really think that's most people. I think most of the time it's just that when shoes don't hurt so badly, or aren't in such bad shape, that they fall off or fall apart; the only one who can really know how it feels to walk in a "limper's" shoes is the limper, himself; and nobody can see things like how many things are hurting and making someone limp; how long he walked and found ways to avoid limping, or how much pain is associated with that limping.

All anyone can see is that he's got shoes, they're still on his feet, and even if he's limping he's still walking. Things aren't always all that simple.

Photo: ME Whelan