The Lesson of the Replacement Flip Flops

Last summer, my flip flops were stolen, and it made me think it might be best if I kept a loose grip on my possessions (and my dreams). I still think that might be a good idea, but this summer, I realized the thought needed to be expanded upon after I bought myself a pair of replacement flip flops.

I went the entire year without replacing my flip flops, which was a mistake because I bought some new ones at the last minute—waiting until the last minute meant that the ones that I ordered were designed for someone with a foot like a Sasquatch, not mine. There wasn’t enough time to return them.

Granted, they worked in a pinch, but they were generally uncomfortable, and there were numerous times when I chose to walk over asphalt in bare feet rather than wear my new flip flops. The sand under the loose-fitting strap was more painful than a sharp rock on the ball of my foot or heel.

They were a bad purchase and a poor replacement. My misfortune and the overall discomfort made me think I should leave these flip flops at the end of the boardwalk, hoping they’d get stolen. But I knew they wouldn’t be. That’s my luck.

* * *

This past year, I’ve continued to work toward my dreams by concentrating on various ambitions. I do feel that I’ve grown and learned the lesson of the stolen flip flops. I make more of an effort not to be upset because I’ve not reached the level of success I desire.

This can be evidenced by some of the projects I’ve decided to work on as well as the attempts I’ve made to create simply for myself. I feel compelled to place a few lyrics of a song titled “Making Music for Money” here. (I know it from Jimmy Buffett’s cover, and I am writing this at the beach.)

My agent, he just called me
And then told me what I should be
He said that I should make my music for money
Instead of making my music for me


And I said I know that it may sound funny
But money don’t mean nothin’ to me
I won’t make my music for money
I’m gonna make my music for me

Kenny Rogers

That’s the kind of attitude that I want to take with my endeavors. Although, I wonder if there isn’t some irony in the fact that Kenny Rogers and Jimmy Buffett were reasonably successful when they were singing it.

However, that might not be the case. Jimmy Buffett recorded the song only four years after his first album release and wouldn’t make platinum for a few more years. So, maybe there was a statement in that lyric, and “making music for me” is the only avenue to real success.

What of all of this means is that it’s okay to let your dreams be stolen (if you can get them back) or dismantled (if it’s only temporarily). The profound error would be to try and replace your dream with something else. That would be the lesson of the replacement flip flops, which means I should start searching for a pair of flip flops that are a reasonable facsimile of the ones that were stolen last year.

Dreams may shift and alter, but that’s no different from shifting sand on a shoreline. It’s the natural progression of time and the elements. Dreams can’t be replaced, so don’t let go unless you know they can be refashioned into something else just like the real thing.

photo: Lee Attwood

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Justin Meckes

Justin Meckes is a writer and filmmaker living in Durham, NC. His stories have been published in various online journals and magazines. He has ghostwritten a sci-fi novel and is the author of several children's books. You can reach him by sending an email to contact@justinmeckes.com.