Zia Hassan

What Does It Mean To Be A No Shoes Household

When I was a kid, I was always caught off guard when a friend’s parent required all of us to take our shoes off when we came inside.

“It’s to keep the carpet clean,” my mom explained to a perplexed 5 year old me, in the car on the short ride home.

And of course, over the years, I’ve met many more people who adhere to the rule of no shoes in the house, and I always thought it was about keeping the carpet clean… until recently.

I was an acquaintance’s house and she explained that, yes, the rule that requires removal of shoes keeps the carpet clean – but it’s more about the function of the shoe.

“The world is full of harmful things on the ground, so we wear shoes to be able to travel gracefully and willfully without worrying about the terrain,” she said. “But in our home, we create the terrain ourselves. The carpet is meant to be walked on with bare feet. You can tell because if you walk on it with shoes, it gets muddy and worn quickly. But if you walk on it with bare feet, you feel like you’re walking on a cloud, the carpet receives your steps with grace, and so our terrain will last longer.”

“There’s also a moment’s pause,” she added. “When you enter a space, removing your shoes requires that you lower yourself to the ground in praise. It puts a little time-gap between entering a door and using the space. A moment of appreciation, perhaps. Of gratitude. Of maybe a question to the space itself: what can I do for you? And what can you do for me?”

It became immediately clear to me that I have disrespected many rooms in my life, and I now look at spaces in a much different way.