I’m going to let you in on a little secret. I hate dress shoes. Yes, they’re shiny and they’re stylish and they look great with a suit, but they’re also uncomfortable, confining and they make my feet hurt.
Anyone who knows me, knows I prefer one type of footwear. In fact, other than a pair of winter boots, there’s only one type of shoe that graces my dogs. I wear them with jeans, with shorts and I wear them when I suit up every day for work.
I have them in grey, white, red and black, and I even have a leather pair that I refer to as my “dress” shoes.
My footwear of choice: Converse All-Stars, or as my generation calls them, “Chucks” (after basketball player Chuck Taylor, for whom the shoe is named).
The news game is a tough one. Not so much a job as a calling, reporters and editors are constantly on the go, fighting to keep on top of the latest breaking story — it’s not called “news” for nothing, after all. Needless to say, being a newsman is stressful. When people comment on my choice of footwear, my standard response is, “Hey, my job is stressful enough — I don’t need uncomfortable feet, too.”
That search for comfort is something all of us do in one way or another. It might be physical; it might be emotional or mental. As sentient beings, that drive to find some measure of comfort in our lives is bred in the bone.
You can even find it in today’s Northern Life.
Jonathan Migneault brings us the story of Mike Prevost and his family, a story that reminds us of the comfort we find in our families.
Over the last four years, bit by bit, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), more commonly called Lou Gehrig’s disease, has been stealing Mike’s life from him.
Wheelchair-bound, he must rely on his family, particularly his incredible wife Gloria, for virtually everything. She is his lifeline and Mike is more resentful of what ALS has done to her life than what it has done to his.
Gloria is the very embodiment of comfort. Breadwinner, caretaker, nurse and friend, not enough can be said about this amazing woman who has sacrificed her own comfort to bring a measure of comfort to her husband.
In the world we live in, a world that seems to glorify self-centeredness, Gloria’s selflessness is something worth noting and emulating.
Less tragic, but equally inspiring, is Heidi Ulrichsen’s fantastic story on school attendance counsellors, the modern-day equivalent of the truant officer of old.
Ulrichsen tells the story of Kendell Cochrane, a Marymount Academy grad with aspirations of being an early childhood educator.
The once-troubled teen is on the right track now, and she credits much of her success to Kim Taylor-Horeck, an attendance counsellor with the Sudbury District Catholic Board.
Kendell found the direction she needed in Kim’s patient approach to helping her.
In short, Kim gave her comfort, which Kendell turned into focus and channelled into motivation. Kim calls those students she’s helped her heroes. Something tells me, Kim too finds comfort in the comfort she provides. You don’t need me to tell you Kim is a hero to these young people.
Look around you. Do you appreciate the things in your life — big or small — that give you comfort? As it is the Christmas season, I know that I plan to take stock of my sources of comfort (besides my shoes) and remember to thank them, in some small way, for being there. I couldn’t get by without them.
To end on a lighter note, my long-suffering wife, Chantal, and my publisher, Abbas Homayed, are apparently — and good-naturedly — conspiring to rid me of my preference for Chucks and get me into a pair of shiny, fashionable dress shoes, but I’m going to hold out.
After all, you have to find comfort where you can.
Mark Gentili is the managing editor of Northern Life.