When you are learning to take on a new role, I find it critical to have someone to consult.
Maybe you have dreamed it long enough, but you are full of anticipation, both good and bad, and need someone who can calm you down.
Maybe you have prepared well enough, but still want someone to fall back on just in case you slip up or start wandering off or have muscle strains.
Maybe you see the road ahead well-paved, but still expect occasional bumps and pitfalls and would very much appreciate tips on how to keep on marching over them.
It necessarily takes time to break in the shoes you are to fill.
So, maybe you will consult the shoemaker to be taught how to walk in them comfortably, without worrying about getting blisters.
Maybe you will consult a physical therapist to be trained to keep on walking straight, tirelessly and without tripping.
Maybe you will consult a textile repair expert to have your shoes be protected from all the wear and tear they experience.
Maybe you will need an entire team of supporters to fulfill your new role successfully.
Or, maybe all you want is just one individual – the one who passed on the shoes to you.
Maybe no better advice can be obtained than from the one who knows exactly what it is like to wear those shoes you have inherited.
On February 23rd this year, the individual named as the successor to fill a highly unique pair of shoes in my nation passed the age at which his predecessor officially began wearing the shoes. I see these shoes to possibly be the most difficult to wear, as they are now the most precious yet least decorated in my nation – they are the symbol of unity of the people, but are stripped of any political power or significance. What big shoes they are to fill!
As I make this post on March 16, 2017, I am hearing news that our government will soon begin work to pass a new law so that these shoes can be passed on while the successor still has time to consult the predecessor. At times, I was critical of the consultation by “expert committee” on this issue, and the details still need to be sorted out, but I feel we are taking a big step forward in the right direction.
I am glad that we, as people, were able to break in the shoes which our predecessors have repeatedly put aside and avoided wearing… it will take some time getting used to them, but I would like to believe that we will learn to fill them well as we walk down a new path we have created for our oldest tradition.