The Meaning Of A Shoe


There’s an old sycamore tree where I live. It’s branches reach so high into the air that it seems to touch the clouds. In summer, shards of light creep through the tree to the ancient bark below.

The tree is not notable because of its beauty. It’s notable because it’s filled with shoes. Small baby shoes hang from the low branches, giant adult shoes sway from up high. All of the shoes twist and turn in the wind. The tree looks like a wind chime which never makes a sound.

I took some visitors to see the tree. In broken English they asked “why is it filled with shoes?” I had no answer. In truth it was the last question I’d expected, although it was the most obvious.

Why was the tree filled with shoes? Why a tree? Why shoes? For years I’d known about the tree, it’s existence never troubled me. It had always been there. It had always been filled with shoes. I never asked the question “why?” Just being there was enough of an answer. It was filled with shoes because it was filled with shoes. It existed because it existed.

I was pressed for an answer, the visitors wanted to know why. So I thought about it. What would make a person throw their shoes into a tree?


There’s an old bridge in Kiev. It’s weathered planks float high in the air. In summer, shards of light creep through the trees to the aged structure below.

The bridge is not notable because of its strength. It’s notable because it’s filled with padlocks. Small white ribbons wave from either side of the bridge, giant strong locks rust in the middle. All a message of love. The bridge is a dedication to hundreds of girls from their Ukranian boyfriends. “I love you.”

I went to visit the bridge. In perfect English I asked my guide “why is it filled with locks?” She had an answer. In truth it was the first question she expected, it was the most obvious.

Why was the bridge filled with locks? Why a bridge? Why locks? For years men had been coming to the bridge. It had always been there. It had always been filled with locks. They never asked the question “why?” Just being there was enough of an answer. It was filled with locks because of love. Men would come from miles around to add to the bridge, their name and the name of their girl engraved on the lock, a symbol of their eternal love. The bridge existed because it needed to exist.

I pressed my guide for more, needing to know why. She thought about it. Why would these men add a lock to the bridge?

She answered. “Sometimes it’s hard to say something. Sometimes you don’t even know what to say. So sometimes you just do.”

I thought about this. “But why do we do?”

She shrugged, she was just a tour guide, not a philosopher. “We just do!”

Sometimes there doesn’t need to be a reason. Some things exist simply because they exist. Sometimes we just do.

13 thoughts on “The Meaning Of A Shoe”

  1. Oh dear! I have to admit that this post makes my day!! Love the structure of the story 🙂
    And yea, I’ve been thinking about the same subject recently when someone asked me “why…..?”. I had never thought of the reasons before so I honestly answered that I had never thought why. But then I tried to look for the reasons “why…..?” inside myself. And I realised that the answer has always been there – it just seems so obvious that I did not notice its existence!

    1. Hah. I showed my friend this post, he said it was “alright, but not great.” I said that one of my readers would like it. It had to be you, I think you’re my number one fan?

      It’d be impossible to think about “why?” for everything. Your brain would explode. Some things can’t be explained either…

      1. Your brain would explode. Some things can’t be explained either…

        very true! I totally agree. but “nothing is impossible” ~> I guess that’s why some people think about “why” for everything and their brains get “exploded”.

        Honestly, I’ve subcribed several WP sites, but I feel really eager waiting for a new post from your blog only. I don’t like every post, but your posts that I like do leave footprints in my mind (well actually I don’t know why, I just really like them!). So my pleasure to be your number one fan! (:

        1. You don’t like every post!? I’m starting to think I was a little hasty in calling you my number one fan now. Your number one fan status has been revoked!

  2. Hey Daniel. This is Jeff Studley from the states, and wordpress, and facebook. Just signed in under our blockwatch login. Great story, mate. I’m passing it on.

  3. Hello, all. Just setting the record straight. “R” has been down graded in status to Number Two Fan. Not a bad position if there were hundreds of fans. Sadly for “R” that is not the case.

    I accept my new de facto position of Number One Fan and will shower Daniel with accolades and rose petals.


    1. Congratulations, Jeff.

      As my new number Number One Fan I expect weekly foot massages and to only be referred to as “His Royal Highness.” Thank you.

  4. You don’t like every post!?

    Obviously! Do you see I pressing “Like” every post? I am no easy reader Mr. Dan! I haven’t read all of your posts, but I had a look at some early posts in 2004 and 2005 and yea, nothing fancy enough to “Like”!

    I do not care about my “fan status”. Your blog is still one of my favorite sites and I’ll keep reading your posts [unless you ban my IP etc.]. And could you tell me Mr. Dan: if you look at the mirror, can you find your “number one fan” who likes every post?

    1. Hah. I was only kidding! I think you’ve taken me serious. No need to be so defensive! 😛

      I’d agree though. My writing wasn’t so good back in 04/05. There’s about 80 posts from the last 5 years that I’ve taken off my site because they lack even the smallest form of quality. I barely even knew what an apostrophe was back then! I think it’s good to look back on writing and cringe, it shows I’ve at least improved some!

  5. I have only read a few of your blogs, and I have thoroughly enjoyed them all! This one especially made me laugh. I find humor in almost everything, and a tree full of shoes is definitely filled with humor.

    Just a thought: instead of asking why, we should ask “why not?” 😉

    1. Cheers! Watch what you’re saying though, my fans might get jealous and track you down and beat you or something, hah.

      I don’t think I would work well with the ‘why not?’ Like that saying: there’s always a thousand reasons not to do something. There’s always a thousand responses to ‘why not?’ The ‘why not?’ is just the same as the ‘but’. 😉

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