Most days I clock up my requisite 10,000 paces a day, with a little surplus to carry forward. At least that’s what my phone tells me via its built in pedometer – if I remember to look of an evening. (And, by the way, who sets this arbitrary number of steps we ought to take each day?) My shoes bear the brunt of the striding – the soles, of course, but also the instep becomes worn away in little patches at my heel and at the ball of my foot. One day everything is fine, and the next I am like the Princess and the Pea, irritated to the point of madness by a little rut, footwear’s equivalent of a pothole in the road, as the rupture scrapes my sole in disproportionate discomfort. Disproportionate, that is, to the tiny worn away patch that is torturing me, as, when I remove the boot or shoe to gaze inside and examine it, what feels like a crater is usually a miniscule hollow. However, buying new insoles (along with new long laces for my twelve-eyed ankle boots) is just one of those things on to-do list that lingers like the smell of boiled cabbage, unexecuted, carried over week on week along with stitching the hole on the inside pocket of my coat so that my loose change doesn’t keep falling into the lining, pennies clinking in the hem as I walk. Maybe it’s time to scrape that one from the list, after all this time of neglecting to mend it I’ve got used to knowing that the left hand pocket of said coat is out of bounds. Delighted I was, then, when the permanently listed insoles found me at my local discount German supermarket where one can find the most random of items keeping company. There it was between the folding camping tables and the angle grinder accessories: a packet of two insoles for a price that gave change from £2. An effective chipping away at the to-do list without any seeking out on my part! Banished, now, is the disproportionate discomfort and in its place is an even greater life changing light-heartedness at the feeling of being gently cushioned as I walk, nay, bounce along the Cowgate of Edinburgh, singing The Proclaimers’, ‘But I would walk 500 miles and I would walk 500 more….’. Why did it take me so long to sort this out? And how is it that such a small change can affect such a big difference and bring this level of happiness? As for wearing new socks with the new insoles, I haven’t tried that yet; I’m afraid it might transport me to something akin to drug-induced levels of happiness that I shall forever seek thereafter.
As I pay attention to the everyday, I discover there are many small changes we can make that pay high dividends, quite exceeding the amount of effort, time, or money invested. Ok, E.’s new bottle of olive oil might have cost an eyebrow raising £15, but what pleasure we had sipping it from our respective teaspoons and shouting out ‘pepper’, ‘chilli’, ‘heat’, ‘earth’ like Jilly Goolden sipping a Barolo on television back in 1985. Buy yourself a bunch of tulips, for instance, inexpensive at this time of year, or cheaper still, a bunch of daffs, and feel the lift in the morning when they’re there to greet you on the kitchen table with a perky wink, or, in the case of my tulips, a deferential, scooping bow. Scatter wildflower seeds – either as a guerrilla gardener in a forlorn patch somewhere near where you live or in a forgotten corner of your own garden then out it to the back of your mind and just wait and see what the summer will do with it. Choose the right tiny change and I defy you to tell me it doesn’t make a big difference!