Whitlam Institute

What Matters 2019 Shortlist

What Matters 2019 Shortlist

The Day My Shoelaces Became Untied

The Day My Shoelaces Became Untied

Kelly Lun

Year 12, North Sydney Girls High School

A year ago, my shoelaces became untied.

I had not intended for it to happen, nor had I expected it to. I'd been walking in those shoes for quite a while now - they were rough around the edges and in need of a good polishing, but nonetheless, they were mine. Every few years, the pair of shoes I wore would change. I would grow into new ones, for no one can live in a single pair forever. Oftentimes I would stumble, or I would trip. Oftentimes I found that the pair of shoes I was wearing did not quite fit me right - they were too loose around the heel, or too tight upon the toes. But at the very least, they were all fitted with laces that looped through each knot; twisting, tangling, converging, and ending in a neat little bow.

Then one day, when I looked down, the two ends of the string lay side by side. Within reach, but apart.

The day my shoelaces became untied, I was suddenly so starkly reminded of a word I'd learnt some time ago: 'kizuna'. They are the bonds that tie us to one another. The string that threads relationships. The connections that matter.

The knots of the shoelaces I'd taken for granted were the knots that tied me to the people in my life. The connections I hadn't realised mattered so much, had suddenly become undone. Why had I let something so important slip right through my fingertips like grains of sand speckled with selfish spiteful words? Why had I so easily forgotten that knots could be so easily untied?

It was only after that realisation that I was suddenly brought crashing back down from my egotistical solidarity to realise that these shoes weren't mine alone - it was the bonds I had made with the people around me that had truly mattered; that had given meaning to each rough patch and crease in the dented leather. After days, weeks, months of walking around in shoes with faulty laces hoping that the knots would simply loop themselves back together, I finally understood that if I truly cared, that if the bonds I'd lost truly mattered to me, then I was the one who needed to retie those shoelaces. I was the one who needed to put the effort in, to repair the relationships I'd broken. I've learnt that we must not forget those closest to us, nor take the bonds we have with others for granted. If someone is meaningful to us, then it is our responsibility to uphold those connections. That is truly what matters.