“In Their Shoes”

I read the book “In Their Shoes” this weekend.  

It is by Grace Halsell an accomplished writer, journalist and explorer. She was a Texan, born and raised; worked for LBJ while he was in the White House; covered bits and pieces of two wars; rode a barge down the Amazon; lived on a junk with a family in Hong Kong, and repeatedly took off to live in places such as Japan and South America without a job, a contact or much money in her pocket. 

Grace’s most famous book is “Soul Sister: The Journal of a White Woman Who Turned Herself Black and Went to Live and Work in Harlem and Mississippi ” (1969).

She explored both the physical and psychological aspects of humanity; our planet was her playground and her laboratory.

That being said, I haven’t read “Soul Sisters” or any of the other 11 books she wrote, and I am not sure I will – for lots of reasons.  The first reason is, after reading “In Their Shoes,” I am not sure I like it.

So why bring all of this up?

I cannot get something she said out of my head:  

 . . . life is not the supreme value.  It is courage.”

Now, I have always tried to live my life with courage, dignity and respect, but her words hit me like a punch to the stomach. 

How had I missed the complete clarity of her statement for all these years? 

Life itself is not the supreme value, but how we live it. Duh! I knew that, but bam – it just hit home for the very first time.

Is it bad to admit that? 

Is this something everyone but me has felt in their gut from the day they were born or at least the age of reasoning?

Has everyone been living by this guiding principle and just tolerating my uniformed existence?

Like I said, Grace’s words keep spinning around in my head.  I think they are worth remembering. 

 . . . life is not the supreme value.  It is courage.”

Postscript: Grace Halsell died on August 16, 2000 at the age of 77.

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