The Problem of Socks

(Not a sponsored post. Just a post about a product I’ve never used, but am fascinated by.)

I first discovered the Sock Slider while waiting for a prescription at my local pharmacy.

Since it was spring (and thus nowhere near Halloween), I’d already exhausted the “seasonal” aisle. Spending too much time in the “candy and chocolate” section seemed a dangerous occupation. And so I turned listlessly down “As Seen on TV,” checking the time and wondering whether my name had been lost in the intercom static minutes before.

Looking away from my phone in this most torpid of moments, my gaze fell upon a middle shelf, and my consciousness awakened forever to the pinnacle of modern technology: the Sock Slider.

 

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Socks hanging off the back of a wooden chair. Photo by Jisu Han on Unsplash

 

I’ll admit it. My first thought was to wonder what use this product could possibly serve. See, I’m one of those insufferable minimalists. I stubbornly avoid new items unless I can identify a significant value the item in question will add to my life. And, though I don’t consider myself particularly flexible (I can’t touch my toes, and my downward-facing dog is an absolute joke), I’m fortunate enough at my current life stage to be able to bend my knees, ankles, hips, and back with the reliability and control required to put my socks on.

And that was my second thought: the realization that not everybody is able to bend their knees, ankles, hips, and back. This trivial plastic contraption would simplify the mornings and evenings of anyone whose body resisted contortions I take for granted. For such a person, this item would add immense value.

In all likelihood, I’ll someday be among those grateful for such an invention. My present state of affairs is ephemeral. Even if I’m spared any kind of accident, my joints won’t last forever. Some of them are already creaking and crackling. I’ve certainly had a day or two wherein socks posed a logistical puzzle requiring the application of pluck and the support of a wall. Someday, those days may become most days.

Someday, those most days might be the precious few good days.

Perhaps if I’d reached someday in a bygone era, I’d’ve kludged together a solution. Something involving dowels, perhaps, and carefully clicker-training a large, amenable cat. But thanks to the modern world—thanks, in no small part, to the way well-applied capitalism encourages ingenuity and rewards the spread of ideas—I won’t have to. Someone’s already created a solution for the problem of socks. Someone’s gone through the trouble of manufacturing such items, packaging them, marketing them, and shipping them to pharmacies and home goods stores. For me, the problem is solved before it has even become a problem. Before I ever realized such a problem existed for anyone.

How wonderful to live in a world full of solutions. Not only the sweeping inventions that guide our present towards the future—the printing press, the vaccine, the internet—but the tiny, almost inconsequential ones as well.

Netted cases to protect baseball caps in the wash. Fleece blankets with built-in sleeves. Toilet-cover night lights.

I don’t mean to encourage anyone to order everything one sees on TV. I’m still a minimalist; still committed to the notion of only taking on items poised to add value.

But how marvelous to inhabit a world prepared to solve such comparatively trifling problems. Think of it all. No more concern over wear-and-tear for baseball cap enthusiasts. No more choosing between continuing a good book and staying toasty warm on long winter nights. No more pitch-dark wee hour bathroom runs and/or no more spoiling good sleepiness with a glaringly bright light.

No more dreading the exertion of applying socks to one’s feet morning after morning. No more beginning each day frustrated by one’s physical limitations. No more starting off on a losing endeavor.

What a time to be alive!

And small solutions often feed into big ones. Problems abound in this world, many of them sprawling and daunting. But human beings are tinkerers, each of us full of ideas. Ideas ripple and evolve. Solutions form and reform as new problems emerge.

Optimism cannot help but exist in a world containing Sock Sliders.


Once again – not a sponsored post! Have you ever found a simple, ingenious contraption that solved a small but critical problem in your life? Tell us about it in the comments!

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Happy witnessing!

 

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Memento Mori V – Or, The Deer and the Turkey Vultures

CW: Animal death, decomposition, blood, death

The deer had been struck by a car a few hours before, as the sun warmed the early-dawn horizon. At least, I could only assume this was the case. I hadn’t seen the impact—wasn’t present for any last struggles or last breaths. All I had was the evidence as I came upon it: the fresh deer carcass, glossy-coated and gracefully arranged even in death, surrounded by seven or eight dark, stooped turkey vultures going about their grim business like so many Reapers.

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Close-up of a turkey vulture’s head and shoulders. Photo by Steve Harvey on Unsplash

Continue reading “Memento Mori V – Or, The Deer and the Turkey Vultures”

Five Tips for Living a Wonder-filled Life

If you’ve been following Crystal Witnesses Wonders, you know I usually use quirky personal anecdotes as the basis for my posts. But what if you’d like to experience more wonder in your own life? What if you’d like to spend more time in awe, more time amazed, more time delighted at the world around you?

Let’s take an experimental detour this week. If it’s a dreadful disappointment, we’ll return immediately to our regular programming and never speak of this again. If you’d like more content like this, please say so in the comments below. I’ll definitely have more to say about each of these five tips.

But right now, let’s dip our toes into some how-to goodness. Keep reading for advice on the Adventure AttitudeStarting Small, Making Mindfulness, Cultivating Curiosity, and Gathering Gratitude.

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Man staring at a starry night sky. Photo by Cody Board on Unsplash

Continue reading “Five Tips for Living a Wonder-filled Life”

All the Profound Clarity of the Gods

Communication did not become a problem until I moved towards the register. The woman behind the counter remained stationary, hands on either side of my donut box, giving me an urgent, confused look and gesturing with an open hand to the donut display before her.

I mimicked the gesture, my hand indicating the register. “Okay kha,” I said, nodding. “Finished.”

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Multiple assorted donuts. Photo by Rod Long on Unsplash

Continue reading “All the Profound Clarity of the Gods”

Exquisite Awareness – Or, Red Elephant Chocolate

In early October of 2015, I stood with Andrew in a Wisconsin chocolaterie, sipping a hot chocolate sample with my eyes closed. Luscious cream warmed my lips and tongue. Sweetness ached in my cheeks, and as the liquid slipped down my throat, the chocolate’s gentle tart depth sprawled sumptuously across my tastebuds.

All at once, I began to cry. Continue reading “Exquisite Awareness – Or, Red Elephant Chocolate”

The “I Heart Beaver” Beaver in Beaver

My car holds just enough gasoline to get me from Las Vegas, Nevada to Beaver, Utah.

I first learned this when driving from my sister’s place in Vegas to Madison, Wisconsin in 2015. I was almost done with the journey’s I-15 leg, and, as one does, I pulled into the gas station that presented itself at the moment when my gas tank was empty and my bladder full.

And came face-to-face with this:

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Six-foot beaver statue standing upright and wearing a sign saying, “I Heart Beaver.”

Continue reading “The “I Heart Beaver” Beaver in Beaver”

Memento Vitae I – or, The Pansies and the Rainbows

Lawana, Andrew’s paternal grandmother, passed away on Palm Sunday. Her passing was not unexpected, but the timing was sudden. Andrew and I arrived in time for her viewing on Good Friday. We laid her to rest on Holy Saturday.

Easter Sunday was a whirl of activity at Andrew’s parents’ place. All the siblings, their significant others, and their children had come to see the family matriarch off. Lawana had brought us together for an unexpected family holiday, and we leaned into the opportunity, exactly as she would’ve wanted. Continue reading “Memento Vitae I – or, The Pansies and the Rainbows”

The Clouds Must Be Bewildered – Or, The Great American Eclipse

On August 21st, 2017, Andrew and I sat beside a ruined French fortress in the middle of Illinois farmland, waiting for the sun to disappear.

We’d found Fort de Chartres by accident. A couple days prior to the Great American Eclipse, we had driven from Madison to St. Louis to spend the weekend with family. This put us barely outside the path of totality. I was content to view the historic eclipse from St. Louis; I have a self-defeating habit of accepting things as they are, even when minor one-time expenditures of effort stand to significantly multiply my enjoyment. Sometimes serene acceptance is a virtue, but I haven’t yet found the wisdom to know the difference.

Thankfully Andrew was having none of it. “We drove all the way down here to see the eclipse,” he said. “We’re seeing the eclipse.” Continue reading “The Clouds Must Be Bewildered – Or, The Great American Eclipse”