Why not splatter?
I've been thinking about small acts that can infect people with more goodwill. I remembered an ironic joke. You know how someone cuts you off in traffic and you lean on the horn, or even give them the finger? Have you ever thought that the person you insulted might do the same thing to another person, in traffic or elsewhere, and that wave of bad vibes you initiated propagates through the world? The punch line to the joke is "...and eventually it all ends up in the Middle East."

I was looking for something on the order of Anne Herbert's "Commit Random Acts of Kindness and Senseless Beauty," but I wanted something that could create a freemasonry of goodwill in which the people who follow these instructions become visible to one another.

Then I saw what was right in front of me -- down at the bottom of my legs, actually. My shoes. In an instant, at the age of 54, I knew why I was born, what my destiny and lasting contribution would be. The reason I've made it this far in life, I now understand, was to to do this one thing, to move from being a painter of my own shoes to an evangelist of shoe-painting.

Paint your shoes and encourage others to paint theirs! The act itself is fun. You can be festive, gleeful, or ritualistic. It's entirely up to you! Painting your shoes is a recognizably friendly act that means you know we are all artists of our own lives and not just passive consumers of commodities manufactured by others. Your painted shoes mean you aren't afraid to be friendly toward strangers. And if there is one thing the world needs, it's more people being friendly toward strangers.

Paint your shoes! Make people smile. Liberate your creative spirit! You'll have interesting conversations with people who don't paint their shoes but comment on yours. Think of the phun when two shoe painters meet! It could cross all boundaries that normally separate us. Shoe painting is multilingual, nondenominational, legal, in the public domain and free of charge. Painting shoes brings a little bit of good will into the world, and although it's a small thing, it becomes a large thing when enough people multiply it! Paint your shoes! For permanent colors, use acrylics, but be careful about washing it off the sidewalk or your hands. You don't have to know how to draw a straight line to splatter, stencil, or dab.

If you paint your shoes or have an interesting encounter with a shoe painter, email me: howard at rheingold.com

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