I have experienced a number of incarnations in my professional life. One of those was my time as a restaurant manager, a position I held from 1997 to 2000. The thing I enjoyed most about that job was the people who came through the door each day, some who eventually transitioned from dining patrons to valued friends.
One of those friends from that time is a gentleman who works as a shoemaker. Over the years this cobbler has continuously CPR’d my most comfy pair of high heels, revitalized my winter-worn boots and salvaged a variety of my purses and wallets
But that’s not all.
Whenever I bring this shoe craftsman my latest leather calamity, we fully debate the merit of my repair and then spend anywhere from a few minutes to an hour in conversation.
Our topics can cover books, religion, spirituality, family, friendship love, life and even death. Meaningful topics that fall far from a shoemaker’s traditional realm of heels and soles.
The other day I stopped at my shoemaker’s shop with a brown bag of my latest leather repair odds and ends---one suede boot with a ripped lining and a purse with a broken shoulder strap.
Engaging in our usual repair deliberation, my shoemaker decreed the boot would have to be assigned to his, “to-do” shelf. My purse, however, he could repair on the spot. I agreed to his terms and he immediately went to work, reuniting the purse’s shoulder strap and bag. And as he did, we talked.
Our chat began with his review of my latest book, Beauty & Grace. As he stitched and clipped, he told me that in making his way through the middle of the book, he found it painfully difficult to read.
I struggled a bit with his feedback until he explained that his reading challenge was related specifically to a character I’d created by the name of Janna Mazury.
It seems that the name of my shoemaker’s mother was the same as my Beauty & Grace character. Additionally, he said the painful life circumstances I’d assigned to my fictional Janna were many of the same challenges his mother had endured throughout her life.
It was a compelling thread of conversation that fostered tear-filled eyes on both sides of his shoe repair counter.
By the time we finished our book chat, my purse was again whole and the shoemaker began filling out a claim ticket for the single boot I was leaving behind. That’s when our conversation took a most unexpected turn —-one in which he led me into an intriguing world of numbers.
He began by asking my birthdate.
Giving him the two digit month and date along with the full year, the shoemaker wrote down the eight figures. He then began scribbling calculations underneath them as if he were solving a calculus equation. Mystified, I watched and did my best to follow the mathematics, to little avail.
It was only as he began writing words in concert with his computations that I understood he was assigning a value to the numbers—-figures he’d derived from my birthdate. He then began translating those values into words, explaining that they defined my being.
He called it numerology.
I’d heard the term before but never paid attention to the concept. At that point, I wasn’t sure I wanted to start paying attention either. There was something about the various ways he moved the numbers around that made me a bit of a Doubting Thomas….until he got to the words.
Translating the jumble of figures and letters, he explained that he’d arrived at a trio of numbers, the first of which defined the foundation of my being----spirituality—-my soul. The second number he said defined the part of me that my foundation supports--- my heart. The third number he termed my strength---communication.
My shoemaker friend then began counting the numbers of letters in my name.
Following another round of mathematical gymnastics, he mined the word “creativity” from my first name and “prosperity” from my middle name, this time adding an infinity symbol to his translation. He then decreed that as long as I use my spirituality/soul and my heart to communicate, I will always be able to make my dreams come true.
I’ve spent the last few days rolling my shoemaker friend’s numbers and words around in my mind, I’ve come to realize their accuracy and almost-startling description of who I am and what I do.
Yet, it’s the suggestion of staying true to those tenets as a direct path to my life’s dreams that has give me a whole new faith in my work.
Telling my stories with heart and soul is the only thing I know—-the way to fulfill my life’s purpose. And I’m grateful to my shoemaker and his numbers for reminding me of the importance of believing in myself to achieve my storytelling dreams