August 07, 2007

So, now here's the thing about all this talk of baby shoes

Let's be clear that this pressing debate--robeez? pedipeds?--is kind of amazing. I don't know really where to begin. This conversation really makes me want to say: YAY INDUSTRIALIZATION! Yay modernity! Yay for the western world!

Because how fantastic is this? That we can have these well-made things for our baby's feet, and that not only will they protect him, but they will also be a little bit beautiful. We can afford these little bits of beauty, the kinds of thing that would have seemed unbelievably luxurious at basically any other point in human history, and in most parts of the world, still.

Talking about the incredible comparative wealth of our lives often leads to guilt, and anxiety. Who are we to waste our energy trying to decide which kinds of shoes to buy for the baby? Most babies don't have shoes at all. And it's true: when I think about infant shoes, I usally also think about Frederick Douglass's autobiography, in which he writes about sleeping outside when he was young. "My feet have been so cracked with the frost," he writes, "that the pen with which I am writing might be laid in the gashes." And here we are, so spoiled by our wealth, that we might actually choose for our baby to go shoeless, because it's better for balance, and because we can control his environment so carefully that shoelessness itself comes with essentially no risks.

I can think a lot of ways to develop this point--there are a lot of things to say. But right now, just really quickly, and without being greedy or taking it for granted or denying the global costs: I'm so glad Elliot has a life that affords him some beauty. I'm glad that he lives in a time and place where loveliness is possible, and walks with him whereever he goes.

4 comments:

Nico said...

Amen to that. We are so very, very lucky.

Beck said...

I know exactly what you mean, of course.

Klandes said...

Thanks for putting it all in perspective, Sarah -- on both sides. It's important to realize that w've got it pretty good, but it's also important that it makes us appreciate things even more.

Amy E said...

Yes, let's all remember to enjoy the consumables while they last, because they will dry up in our lifetime, and certainly in Elliot's lifetime.

It really is ridiculous how much we COULD share, but don't share. Like, where are the baby shoes Brandon wore when he was little? Should Elliot wear those?

How about power tools and camera lenses and even cookie pans? Think of all the materials, sitting around.

I am becoming hyper-aware of plastics these days, since I read about the North Pacific Gyre, comprised of plastic bottles, floating TWICE THE SIZE OF TEXAS.

Whatever shoes you're buying, I say skip the plastic - buy leather.

But isn't it hard, to avoid plastic, when it does so much to increase and preserve our lifespans? We are privileged to live in a time and place of such healthy, painless hygiene - right? Aren't we all supposed to divine the 80+ year lifespan?

But at what long term cost? The cost of the future of the entire planet, just so we can be healthy now? Oh, how to balance our selfish present presence with our instinct for long-term perpetuation?

How to answer the question,
what is more sustainable,
leather from cows who emit carbon gas and drink like 200 gallons of water a day and ruin land,
or, plastic, which never degrades? Where are the value judgment reports on such things?

Ask Elliot, please, for his opinion on Plastics.

"Molecules are being tortured everywhere!"