Whenever I walk into my house or anyone else's, I kick off my shoes. It's a habit, a conditioned response. It happens in many parts of Alaska. No one wants to track in mud or snow or sand. Some people keep extra slippers for their guests and some, like me, bring their own slippers to wear. We are all so accustomed to taking off our shoes that it just doesn't seem right to wear shoes in anyone's home. This is what it looks like when we have a party.
I wonder if some unexpected things come from taking our shoes off. Certainly there is a moment of consideration about the cleanliness of other people's homes, a moment of respect when leaving shoes at the door. There is also a moment when your host might give you permission to wear shoes inside. Shoes are a little bit of armor, after all. The shoeless foot is vulnerable, unprotected. Does it soften us?
In the simple yet highly symbolic act of removing our shoes, we are demonstrating consideration, respect, and a willingness to be vulnerable. It is a nice habit, isn't it?