JOSHUA KIRSHNER
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"STUFF" AND THE RETIREMENT OF A SNEAKERHEAD

 Those of you that know me well, know that I have an obsession with sneakers. Some have called this obsession "weird", "unhealthy", and even "not manly". After all, why would a guy have 80 pairs of shoes? I've often found myself thinking the same thing over the last few years, but always remind others and myself of the reasoning behind it.

Here's a few quick points on my reasoning and a reflection on my "sneakerhead" ways.

Flashback to 1997: Penny Hardaway, Guard for the Orlando Magic, NBA Superstar. Fast, flashy, charismatic and does anyone remember his Nike commercials with the Chris Rock voiced puppet, "Lil Penny"?! ..But what were those all royal blue space boot looking shoes he was wearing?! The Nike Foamposite One. The start of noticing what shoes my favorite players were wearing.

Flashback to 1998: FINALLY, my first ever pair of Nike's. They were Seattle Sonics Guard and star player, Gary Payton's very own shoes, the Nike Air Son of Glove. The start of an obsession with just having shoes.

Flashback to 2003: Tracy McGrady, yet another Guard for the Orlando Magic and NBA Superstar. What were those shiny royal blue shoes with silver stripes he was wearing?! The newly released Adidas T-Mac 2, exclusively in that color for the 2003 NBA All Star Game. I HAD to get those shoes. I got them. 

More than a decade later, I still have them. Along with 3 other identical pairs which I will probably always keep.

Over the course of the last decade, I have accumulated more shoes than I could ever even wear. Most people don't understand how or why a guy would have a collection of around 80 kicks, which are all mainly basketball shoes. Time and time again though, I point out the facts of marketing and consumerism. Every single thing we want, we want it because we either see someone else have it, use it, or talk very positively about it. As a kid whose whole life growing up was about playing and watching sports, mainly basketball, doesn't it make sense when I would want to wear and hoop in the same shoes as my favorite players?

While my personal reasoning of why I have all of these shoes is still doubted by many, it has even gotten worse with the new generation. Unfortunately, many people in today's fashion culture have lost sight of the story behind the product. Do you think the common hipster wearing some Air Jordan XII's knows the story behind that shoe other than the fact that Michael wore them? Nope. To most people now, it's ONLY some sort of fashion statement. Not many kids these days know or even appreciate the stories behind what they are wearing. Those same Jordan XII's some 15 year old hipster kid is wearing are the same shoes that Michael Jordan himself wore while captivating fans all over the world before that same 15 year old was even born. Game 6, 1997 NBA Finals against the Utah Jazz. Michael Jordan, suffering from the flu, carries a team on his back, battles both the flu and the Jazz, to win a pivotal game which would later turn into another ring. Every kid and even a lot of adults in Chicago at the time were probably lining up at the local Footlocker to get those shoes and "Be Like Mike". At least they had a valid reason to. Nowadays, kids line up in the stores to get the latest Jordan's or other shoes based off hype or resale value, and couldn't even tell you why the shoes are important. They even call the shoes by their nickname, "Flu Games" but don't even know or think about what it means. The original sneakerheads, the real "OG's", have fallen victim to the same game they originally created. Consumer capitalism at its finest, right? 

My love for sneakers has never wavered. It still is and will always be there. You'll still see me proudly wear what I decide to keep and I will still dabble in including shoes in my photography which I dub "taking sick pics of kicks". But the game has now changed and it's time for me to retire. Gone are the days of saving up all my allowance money to head to the store and buy the latest T-Mac's or Kobe's. Today calls for using money on more important and responsible things. No more 20+ new shoes a year, just maybe one or two here and there. Over the last year and a half traveling the world and experiencing new things, I've realized how little it profits you to be materialistic, no matter what the "stuff" may mean to you. I finally understand what Matthew 6:19-21 has been trying to tell me all along:

“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in Heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."

My heart and treasures are no longer in materialistic things such as all of these shoes. Rather, they are in the beauty of God's creation, my relationship with Him, my relationship with loved ones, and my pursuit of spreading the good news of the Gospel of Christ and His love for us. At the end of our days here, the things we accumulate will no longer matter. What we did to impact those in the world around us in their lives and for eternity are what will really matter.

So to that I say, so long "stuff", cause "moth and rust" will destroy you one day after all. 

Joshua Kirshner