Did Chief Seattle Smell Stinky Feet?

June 1, 2009

All things share the same breath- the beast, the tree, the man, the air shares its spirit with all the life it supports. -Chief Seattle

Chief, did you ever breathe the stink of boys’ socks after a basketball game? How about adolescent girl perfume? And smog from the city? Somehow, I gotta think the breath of today is not the same as the breath of yesteryear.

Do we really want to share our breath? Do we really want to breathe at all?

Yesterday, I caught my six-year-old rolling upside down on her bed with her feet in her face. At least she wasn’t standing with her toes in the toilet like she did when she was two, but still. What was she doing?

I asked.

“I’m smelling my feet! Wanna smell?”

No thanks.

“But they smell good! Come on, smell!”

So I did. Good, would not be the adjective I would use, but I didn’t say so.

Maybe letting our children develop a healthy sense of who they are, even if it includes odorous body parts, encourages self-esteem. Besides, do I want a daughter adorned with Chanel, sporting perfectly pressed ribbons, and who wears make-up and high heels? I do not. While sticking one’s toes in one’s nose might not be the most lady-like habit on the planet, it does allow for exploration and eventual self-confidence.

If I try hard, I can get over the smell of stinky feet and recognize that to a six-year-old, a whiff of a toe may be divine. The old Chief was right. We are all on this planet breathing the same air that gives us life. Maybe we won’t like the same sweet smells, but, recognizing that we connect through breath is the first step toward a more peaceful existence.

On the other hand, they do sell some mighty fine peppermint foot lotion. . .


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