It was early morning, the sun just peeking out from between the trees, when Mark left for work in the city. He boarded the train and settled back for an hour’s commute.

Mark loved the small town life. The people were so different from those in the big city. In the city no one made eye contact, and no one ever smiled at a stranger. It was as if it was not allowed. His friend, Peter, a policeman had even lectured him about being so friendly looking. He said it made him appear to be an easy mark, a victim personality.

Yes, Mark always longed for Friday and regretted when Monday came back around. If it weren’t for the big raises, bonuses, and all the benefits, he would have left his job and become a speaker and an author of inspirational books—books to teach people to live their dreams. Thinking intensely about this, he let out a snort of despair. He still didn’t have the courage to make the break.

Other passengers looked suspiciously at him, because of the strange loud sound he had made, and then they quickly looked away. He said out loud to no one in particular, “the newspaper says we’re to have a big storm later today.” It didn’t really; he was just accustomed to frequent lying. Oh, they were mostly just what his mother called white lies—silly things said in nervousness or embarrassment to cover his actions or to appear to be in the know. He couldn’t remember when he had started lying as a common habit. It once was too difficult, because the lie had to be protected, in other words, remembering who was it told to and do all the facts follow through? Now it seemed everyone   lied about the silliest things and didn’t even bother to cover their tracks. It made life so difficult because no one knew for sure what was real—what was truth. How do you build business relationships on lies? For that matter how do you trust anyone, even a family member who frequently lies?

The train was slow this morning. It was Monday, and people were sluggish and grumpy. Many had to stand in the aisle, since transportation was limited and undependable. No one knew for sure when the trains would arrive and depart. Most everything had become a huge mess due to the chaos that lying brings about.

Mark was sitting next to the window reading his morning paper crestor medicine. He turned and said to the person next to him that he had forgotten his umbrella, and there would be a terrific storm later in the day. The sun was shining brilliantly, and his fellow passenger looked at him uncertainly. Finishing the paper he said to the young man seated across from him how much he loved working in the city, how exciting and stimulating it was to be there. Funny though, his shoes seemed to pinch every time he told one of his white lies. He wondered what could be causing this.

Since the young man across from him seemed a bit more cordial, he continued the conversation. While thinking to himself, “these blasted train rides every day are such a bore,” he cheerily asked the young fellow, “don’t you love this hour on the train? It gives you time to settle into the day and reflect on the events to come. The young man agreed, and Mark’s shoes pinched painfully. Then he told the young stranger how many friends and contacts he had made during the endless number of train journeys. Basically, he had never made an effort before to talk to anyone on his daily journeys. Owwww, those darned shoes, guess it is time to replace them. Then he told the whopper. He said he was the president of his own company where he employed over 500 people, but he loved riding the train because it kept him in touch with how his employees lived and felt about things. The young man was duly impressed. Then his feet felt like they were covered with hot lead. They sat facing each other and there was a small table between them, so Mark was unable to see what was happening to his painful feet. He attributed it to his long trek in the forest with his dog, Butch, on Sunday. He loved the fresh air, the warm sunshine, and the calm green canopy of the forest. Butch loved to race through the trees looking for small animal, and they had been out for the entire day yesterday.

Finally, the train slowly pulled into the station. There were seemingly hundreds of people milling about on the platform. Mark had never seen this before. What was happening? Then he noticed they all had on huge orange shoes. The shoes looked like something Mickey Mouse would wear, and they were glow-in-the-dark orange. He began laughing uproariously. Then, his fellow passengers laughed until they were crying at the comical sight.

As the train came to a stop, people stood up and began to make their way to the exit. However, some had shocked looks on their faces instead of the mirth of seconds before. They were unable to easily navigate the narrow aisle.

Mark stood up and immediately fell back into his seat. The young man reached over the small table to assist him, saying, “Are you all right?” Mark responded with a shill cry. His feet wouldn’t move. They seemed caught on something. After many assurances that he would be all right, the young man finally left. Mark set about to sort out this seriously weird situation. As he wiggled his feet out from under the table, there he saw the huge glow-in-the-dark bulbous orange shoes. There was absolutely no way to remove them. As a fellow passenger stared down at his feet, he lied again and said he was a member of the convention outside. Suddenly, the terrible pinch struck again, and the shoes sprouted another size larger. The frightened passenger ran for the exit.

Then Mark understood. Lying was such an encumbrance in life, just like these hideous orange shoes. Somehow, the fates were paying them back for all the mindless, useless fabrications.

With further scrutiny as he trudged among the crowd, Mark noticed that some people had smaller orange shoes and some were like giant clown shoes. His own were approaching the giant size. He finally stumbled away and managed to hobble in to work. Most of his fellow workers also wore the same strange orange shoes. No one seemed to understand what was happening. This strange event was on every radio and television news station—it seemed to be an anomaly all over the nation.

It seemed only Mark understood why the orange shoes had suddenly manifested on so many millions of feet. As he was thinking about how the shoes suddenly expanded when he lied to his fellow passenger about his membership of the convention outside the train, his boss stumbled into the office with monstrously large glowing orange shoes and a look of shock on his face. Mark began laughing so hard, and all the employees around him did as well. Mr. Sharp, the boss, shouted for them to stop or they would all be fired. Some did immediately and quietly went back to work.  Mark could not stop laughing, because he knew the reason behind the man’s extraordinary shoes. Mr. Sharp hobbled over with the big flopping shoes and told Mark to get his belongings and leave.

Mark complied without resistance. The other employees did their best to hide their mirth and quickly turned back to work as if nothing had happened.

Mark looked down at his feet on the way out of the building. Amazingly, it seemed the big glowing orange shoes weren’t quite so large. As he flapped down the street on his way back to the train station, he began telling people why they were afflicted with the strange footwear. “It is the lies you tell,” he said. “You must tell the truth, even if it hurts.”

As he made his way through the massive stumbling crowd who were becoming more unruly as they stepped on each other or kicked another’s shin with the monstrous shoes, he began to shout out to them. Are you living your dream? Are you lying to yourself and everyone around you? Stop it, and the shoes will shrink. Some people heard him and paused to think about his message. Others began passing the word around. All of the news people had the biggest orange shoes around, and as they passed through the crowd, they carefully avoided interviewing him and kept the cameras off of him with great deliberation.

Then the mayor and the governor arrived in a big black limosine, since they were to speak to the masses of people about this amazing situation. As the back doors of the limosine opened, the largest orange shoes ever seen clumsily stepped out. The governor’s and mayor’s shoes were so large they could barely move at all to make it to the speaker’s platform. They had to stand sideways and take one step at a time clinging to each other precariously.

All televisions showed only an emergency state of the union address. The President was positioned behind a huge podium, but it could not hide his gigantic orange feet. Likewise the Vice-president and all his men had orange glowing feet so large that no one could concentrate on the President’s babbling excuses for this orange shoe breakout. It seemed, he believed, it had to be a terrorist plot.

Then Marks message began to make sense. Everyone knows politicians with few exceptions were the biggest liars of all. The people understood then that Mark’s solution was right.

As Mark explained to hundreds of people why they were so afflicted, his shoes became smaller and the shape and color returned to normal. To experiment, he muttered, “it is about to rain,” as the sun blazed above. The pinch returned, and the orange began to glow and grow.

Mark knew for certain that truth was the answer. He told anyone who would listen that we have all been living a lie for too long. We are told what to do, and how to do it by lying and cheating leaders and their followers. We carry this on in our own lives, and our world has descended into chaos and huge orange shoes. Only absolute change to veracity will make it all go away.

Mark realized that there is only one answer. We must live our truth on every level of our existence. Truth means to be genuine or as some say transparent in motives and mission.

Even so-called “white lies” are unacceptable for our inner wellbeing. Still, the greatest injustice to ourselves is to daily live a lie, doing what we do because it pays well, or someone said that should be what we do, or I tried it, didn’t like it, but must continue because that is what I’m trained to do.

If someone says to think of anything but an elephant, what do you think about? Of course, this huge elephant fills your mind. So, the goal here is every time a lie starts to form in the mind, thoughts of big orange bulbous shoes should suddenly appear. Nothing else is allowed. How fast would our lives change, and what differences there would be.

Truth can be used viciously, as a tool to hurt other. It is true that anything can be abused. However, as Martin Luther King cried out to the masses, The Truth Can Set You Free! Remember this, and big, bulbous, glow-in-the dark orange shoes.