Left and Right Socks

Conviction, Uncertainty  and Falke Sensitive Trek Socks


I read a piece about this yesterday and various points hit home and sometimes I wonder how we all survive the battleground of human communication and relationships, at times so complicated and yet I suspect it could all be much simpler if we all stopped taking our thoughts quite so seriously and just got on with the task at hand and then the next task and the next. I think it would all be easier if we focussed on being interested, compassionate, loving and trusting. Those seem to be the core healthy emotions to nurture.

Conviction and uncertainty … the other day in the little changing cubicle at the swimming pool where I go and pretend I am a fat silky sea lion with streamlined whiskers, I heard a piping Little Voice say to its Mama, “Which is my left sock and which is my right sock?”  The Mama replied, “Don’t be silly, there is no such thing as left and right socks.”

Little Voice piped again, with a sad tone this time, ” But there is a left glove and a right glove”. The Mama was emphatic, “There are no such things as left and right socks.”


Now, I am not a Mama but it struck me that Mama was so sure and so certain and yet she was wrong, because there are left and right  socks; I know that because I wear them and in fact I was putting mine on at the time. I had to resist the urge to dangle them over the cubicle wall and say ‘Look look!’ because that would just have been silly.

Anyway a lot of the time I am certain and have convictions that I am right and the rest of the world is wrong or mistaken or deluded, but what I am coming to realise is that I am no different from that Mama. And that most of my unease and unhappiness comes from trying to hold onto certainty and convictions, on judgements about other  events and other people, that are just not based on anything real or on faulty information or faulty thoughts.


So with that in mind I look at my socks in all their left and right loveliness, with their little silicon nibs that hold them up but also allow the socks not to have too tight tops to squish my sensitive ankles and smile.


The lesson I am learning, slowly and painfully is that I am often not right when I am convinced that I am, and it doesn’t matter, in fact it is a freedom to grasp that knowledge and resultant uncertainty. It allows one to pass more easily through the waters of the pool of life. Less effort and the water turns soft and gentle, press and push and huff and puff and I am exhausted by the time I reach the end to turn again and start all over.

How do you feel when you are wrong about something?  Do you feel embarassed or ashamed, or do you find it quite interesting, an opportunity to learn something new? I am working on feeling the latter.

PS I have edited the last but one paragraph, the bit in italics,  as it didn’t quite make sense, even to me!

30 thoughts on “Left and Right Socks

  1. frandough

    Dear Joanna,   Can’t reply to your blog as I am at work and have forgotten my pass word. I had to let you know how grateful I am for your post on Left  and Right socks. As I suffer with terrible varicose veins (four operations no less) . I will be ordering some of the socks they look wonderful becuase it is often difficult to obtains socks with loose tops to stop constriction of blood supply! Sorry Joanna I do elaborate, but I know you understand . I enjoyed the post as always. I quite agree with your thoughts and the final words in your post . As sometimes I mught feel embarassed, but most times I learn something new. Like today yeah!!   Love   Franxx

    1. Joanna Post author

      This particular pair are for going in walking shoes and boots really, but Falke do a lightweight cotton one called London Sensitive and a lightweight wool one called Berlin. Not cheap, but very kind to ankles. I think Sockfox has a sale on at the moment so they are a bit cheaper than normal. I tend to buy the men’s ones as they fit my wide feet better. I am a Falke sock addict, falls into luxury class but we all have our foibles. Sorry to hear about the veins and the operations Fran, I didn’t know that.

  2. Alicia (foodycat)

    Those look like the perfect sock! It seems so mean to offend a small person’s sense of symmetry by telling them there is NO SUCH THING. I have Japanese Tabi socks where the left and right is also important – you can’t fit 4 toes in the space of the big toe.

    1. Joanna Post author

      I don’t know if they are perfect, but they suit me and they don’t fall down in my wellies either and are a bit padded which all helps if you are a footly challenged person. I don’t think the Mama was being mean, she was just saying what she thought to be true, which is what we all do :)

  3. heidiannie

    Love the socks- I am always looking for comfortable socks.
    And – being wrong? When I find myself clearly in the wrong I set about looking for ways to become in the right? I do make sure that I am certainly wrong first- because I don’t like being misinformed or assuming things that I don’t really know. Usually I apologize – if I have offended in my ignorance or bigotry and then I research to find the error of thought or ways that has led me down that particular path.
    Being wrong is not such a rarity in my life- I find myself there often- so I spend a lot of time reading, researching, asking, and listening so that I may make repairs.
    Depending on whether or not my ‘wrongness’ affected any one else- I am usually more interested in learning the right of a situation or truth- I am, however, distressed if I have hurt anyone in my assumption of what was ‘right’.
    Great post- linking socks to attitudes.
    Saw this last year- Kathryn Schulz does these talks on being wrong- interesting!

    1. Joanna Post author

      I am glad you liked the socks and I am very interested to hear what people have to say, though I do get a bit convoluted in my thought processes sometimes I know. I think the listening with attention is key, I am so often thinking about the next thing I am going to say, which is so very important (to me of course) that I only skim listen, a bit like skim reading. I know that when people talk to me as if I am an expert about anything I am bemused as I only see all the times I get things wrong, but maybe an expert is someone who has just got more things wrong over time and learnt more as they went along, continuing to make their mistakes and benefititng from the experience. I agree realising that you have hurt someone because of assumptions made is very distressing. I don’t know Kathryn Schulz but I will go and look at her talks! Thank you my friend!

  4. Karin Anderson

    I had to smile when I read your being tempted to say something to the mother. The urge to contradict people you know are either dead wrong or only in need of “a little education” is sometimes hard to overcome. :)

    1. Joanna Post author

      I am a terrible know-it-all and well meaning interrupter :) :) But on this occasion I restrained myself !

    1. Joanna Post author

      Ha! I knew there had to be others out there – I have seen the ski socks, they have even more complicated padded bits don’t they? Very smart :)

      1. Promenade Claire

        Some have all sorts of technical stuff going on to help keep your feet and legs warm, comfortable…… that would all apply if I was a good skiier!

        1. Joanna Post author

          I am sure you are a better skier than me! Have a vivid memory of a dry ski slope somewhere outside London and ripping the back of my jeans and a layer of skin from waist to knee as I slipped and slid down on my bum!

  5. drfugawe

    I am feeling so bad for the little boy … W hat happens when he grows old enough to realize that his mother was wrong? I mean, isn’t that worse than finally knowing that Santa isn’t really real? So sad.

    1. Joanna Post author

      I am not sure if Little Voice was a boy or a girl. I don’t know what age children are when they realise their parents don’t know everything, maybe the internet makes that happen much younger. Goes off to google ‘Doc says Santa isn’t real, really?’

  6. sallybr

    Very thoughtful post…
    Being very honest here, I do not mind being wrong. I don’t quite know why it doesn’t bother me, but maybe it has to do with my work. I had so many theories and thoughts and ideas absolutely destroyed by simple facts (experiments) that I actually get very surprised when things are the way I expect them or think they will be. Of course, even when something is “proven”, it’s just to a certain point.

    But I digress. I know you are not talking about hypothesis and experiments – still, in “normal life”, I am not too bothered by realizing I am wrong. I admit it, and I do try to learn from it.

    I do have a few very strong convictions, though, that could be hard to accept as ‘false” – but those are in categories beyond experimenting ;-)

    1. Joanna Post author

      From a science perspective one can never prove anything right, just test hypotheses, yes? And I used a very simple and concrete example of being proven wrong, by the existence of my socks. But I am interested in the notion that being convinced one is right is an emotional state. There is a link to an article at the top of the post which is what I was trying to test in my own way here. The kitchen is full of the smell of late night banana bread cooking Sally! I feel late night munchies coming on :-)

  7. Debra Kolkka

    Great socks! I love listening in to conversations…what fun. I don’t mind being wrong, we all get stuff wrong sometimes. I am trying to learn Italian and am constantly making mistakes. Some people just let it pass, others laugh at me and some correct me. I can manage all 3, but I like the ones who correct me the most.

  8. cityhippyfarmgirl

    I don’t mind being wrong and I hopefully can say so gracefully. It’s almost with a sense of a great weight lifting when you admit to being wrong. (although SO very rarely happens ;-))
    Just musing though…it’s far easier when it’s a black and white right or wrong, when you are talking about emotions, morals, ideas that’s where it gets so much more complicated….hmmm, I’ll spare you the thought waffle I’m currently enjoying, but wonderful post dear Joanna.xxx

    1. Joanna Post author

      Please join in the waffle Brydie. I have monkey mind and rapidly make things far too complicated for myself, even when I start off writing about socks :-)

  9. ardysez

    Beautifully said, Joanna. I’m with you all the way… even so far as the socks are concerned. In fact, I’m wearing my own L and R socks at the moment!!! XX

  10. Ann

    Love those socks – I didn’t know you could get L and R ones apart from the Japanese sort.
    Great post. I don’t mind being wrong but do have trouble giving in when I know that I am right – I mean actually know for certain, not just think I am. Have a tendency to worry at it like a terrier! Doesn’t always go down well.

    1. Joanna Post author

      Morning Ann, I know that worrying like a terrier feeling. I use it to describe thinking about something I can’t resolve and then leave and do the next thing, I just sit there growling at the hole in the ground, waiting for the rat to come out…

      When it involves other people it feels like a struggle too, like playing tuggie with a dog, lots of adrenalin involved :)

  11. hotlyspiced

    I have such an issue with socks. We seem to have so many unpaired socks around the house. I have some left and right socks though and I like them because when they come out of the wash they are so easy to pair! I’m always wrong but it’s okay because I just don’t admit it! xx

    1. Joanna Post author

      Different colour socks are probably the easiest way to find the pairs. On the cotton left and rights, the L and R’s gradually fade away, and then some of mine are the men’s ones and some the ladies and they are different lengths. I think sock pairing is best undertaken on a sunny day with a large cup of coffee and a slice of cake, that or get someone else to do it. I love that you are always wrong :) but it also sounds as if you admit it to yourself and that is the main bit isn’t it? xx

  12. Celia @ Fig Jam and Lime Cordial

    I don’t mind being wrong. And I don’t mind at all when people think differently to how I do. But I have learnt that there are certain people whose view of the world is so disparate from mine that we’re all better off if we avoid each other – that way we can still be kind and civil to each other, without rubbing each other the wrong way. On the other hand, there are the true kindred spirits like you, my darling friend, and even though we’re half a world away from each other, I treasure every opportunity to spend time with you. xxx

    1. Joanna Post author

      We all figure out what we need to know eventually don’t we? Brrr.. I need to go back to bed, but thank you for being such a stalwart friend xx Jo

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