As Life’s Certainties Crumble

Part of life is weathering the realizations that ideas and principals you’ve been taught growing up are wrong.  I grew up being told that our government and the people who run it have our best interests at heart.  I learned that was an idealistic dream in the late ‘60s.  I was taught that one needed to respect authority and those in positions of power.  It took only a few weeks into joining the workforce that I realized how the Peter Principal worked; that most bosses and supervisors weren’t necessarily smarter or wiser, in fact most were dumber and more foolish, they were just more aggressive.

And so now I consider myself much wiser and considerably more safely cynical.  I’m snug in my skepticism and cozy in my disbelief.  That didn’t prepare me for what I learned last week. How was I to know that 55 years of shoe tying as I knew it was all a lie?

Tying my shoes is as automatic as breathing. I estimate that I’ve tied my shoes more than 30,000 times over the years.  I estimate that the last 29,750 were done without thinking.  I estimate that 10,000 of those shoe tyings were retying shoes that came undone.  I’ve tied my shoes in the dark, looking the other way, and while involved in conversation. I had taken it for granted that shoelaces, by their very nature, become untied during the course of a day.  Just retie on autopilot and go on.

I hate to blame my parents, but they taught me the wrong way to tie my shoes.  I’ve been taught what is known as the “Granny Knot”.  I bet there’s a good chance you were taught the Granny Knot, too.  After you tie you laces, does the bow run longitudinally along the length of your shoe?  Do you laces invariably become untied?  You’re not alone.

Once I discovered this I had to begin the painful process of relearning to tie my laces.  I’m 4 years old all over again. My fingers are spastic.  What once took 3 seconds now takes 10.  What once was done while watching the news or telling a joke now takes concentration that forces my tongue out the side of my mouth.  I now finish lacing my shoes with the same sense of pride I felt 55 years ago.  It’s taking a LONG time to get used to.  All those years of habit and muscle memory won’t go away easily. And I’m haunted by the thought that by the time this becomes second nature I’ll need someone to tie my laces for me anyway.


Learn the correct way to tie your laces at Ian's Shoelace Site


a) You have perpetuated the lie by teaching me how to tie my shoelaces wrong.

b) That site could use some illustrative photographs.

I'm wracked with guilt over my role in perpetuating the error. My only solace is that you have many more years of practice ahead to hone the skill.

If you are Granny Kotting it there is an "easy" solution. Tie your first knot opposite to how you currently tie it. That is, if you go left over right to start the knot, now go right over left. You'll be spastic about it for the first several months, but your laces will thank you.

Click the "Finishing Bows" link on the upper right of Ian's page for detailed drawings on a whole slew of shoelace tying techniques.

My cynicism extends to the level of not buying into the fact that a Granny Knot is ‘wrong.’ I don’t feel the need to relearn tying my shoelaces at this point in my life; I’ll save my precious remaining brain cells to learn to savor the tastes of new wines or something else more enjoyable. I certainly don’t need a website to teach me to tie my shoelaces.

Besides, I’ve been double knotting the suckers for years and they don’t untie.

Maybe it's time for slippers?

Hey, I love in Florida all I have are two words.... flip flops


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This page contains a single entry by published on May 31, 2007 9:31 AM.

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