8 Kindness Lessons I Learned at the Shoe Repair Shop

posted in: Blog, channeling, kindness | 14

An understanding heart is everything in a teacher, and cannot be esteemed highly enough. One looks back with appreciation to the brilliant teachers, but with gratitude to those who touched our human feeling. ~ Carl Jung


Many years ago, when I was growing up in New York State, I knew an old shoe repair man. Louie was no ordinary shoe guy, no ordinary man.

Our families had been friends for many years, having both immigrated from Italy in the early 1900s. Louie was a dwarf, barely three feet tall, and also a hunchback who walked with a painful limp. Yet he was about the most cheerful, compassionate man I’ve ever known.

As kids, we  used to love going into his shop just to visit. He always had a kind word and a knowing twinkle in his eye, especially if something was troubling us. He was a great listener, compassionate and caring. He was widely known for his bright-eyed kindness, and nearly everyone in town loved him.

Louie was also an expert shoe repair man, his work being highly regarded all over our rural area. He wasn’t particularly religious, but he not only healed soles, he healed souls.

His shoe repair business was only a sideline. His true profession was as a healer and teacher to all who were fortunate enough to know him. The hallmark of his character was kindness.

Here are some of the lessons I learned from Louie about kindness. I’ve carried the memories with me ever since those long-ago days.

  • When you walked into Louie’s shop, you felt almost as if you’d entered another dimension. His energy was palpable and radiated throughout his shop. As soon as you were in the door, Louie gave you his full attention.
  • He was always genuinely interested in what was going on in his customers’ lives.
  • Louie was a great listener. You always knew his heart was open, and  you had his full attention.
  • He never preached or gave advice unless you asked for it.
  • Even then, his advice was always kind. He never criticized you, or anyone else.
  • Louie was no saint, but he sure knew how to uplift people’s spirits.
  • He was a healer of human hearts without really knowing what he was doing. You never left his shop feeling down or depressed, even if that’s what you were feeling when you walked in.
  • It wasn’t what he did or said that made a difference, but who he was. His being was far more powerful than his doing.

Do you have anyone like Louie in your life? If you do, you are richly blessed.

P.S. This is one of the 9 most uplifting posts from 2018 you cannot ignore.
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Copyright © 2018 by John Cali


This short video is an excerpt from American writer George Saunders’s 2013 commencement speech at Syracuse University.


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14 Responses

  1. Marga

    This is a very Nice story. Want to thank you for sharing this for the second time. I would like that there were more people like this louie.

    Its really funny that you are
    posting this now. For me it is an answer how to deal with my 14 year old daughter who is depressed at this moment, talked to my Brother today and said that ive tried everything, andere we came to the conlusion that i only have to listen… Only be there for her when she needs me and be kind, caring and have some patience.
    And now non-asked voor advices, that i give a lot try to help her.

    Your post is letting me see that
    my decision is right. And that all you need in life is kindness.

    Een hele fijne dag toegewenst John
    Hartelijke groetjes Marga

    • John Cali

      Thank you very much, Marga, for your comments. I’m delighted the post helped you in your relationship with your daughter.

      I agree with you that kindness is so important in life. I love what the Dalai Lama said: “My religion is kindness.”

      God bless you, dear!

  2. Sarah Drury

    Louie seems to be living in the moment and fully accepting of the people and life around him. He sounds a beautiful person, a beacon of light. A therapist and healer unintentionally.
    To the video now….I totally understand the feeling of regretting not being kinder. For example how many people walk past a homeless guy in the street and then feel guilty for not being kind? And during disagreements for example when a kind word could have totally diffused the situation? We should seek kindness over our fragile ego always.

    • John Cali

      In all the years I knew him, Louie truly did live fully in the moment. And he was one of the kindest people I’ve ever known.

  3. Ron B.

    His being was far more powerful than his doing.

    That applies to all of us, human or not.

    Another way of saying this is that it is not our decisions which matter most but the intent behind those decisions. That kind of puts our justice systems often in a rather untenable spot, for example.

  4. Steff

    Your wonderful proof that it is most often NOT what they say .. but how they make you feel that is most important!!! Great reminder !!

  5. Martha.

    Yes, John. YOU.

    Life is a mirror. “That which unto like itself is drawn.
    Thank you for sharing such a wonderful story about an angel named Louie who touched your heart. How blessed you were to know him.



  6. Karen Lee Samson

    What an uplifting shared memory,of a beautiful soul=Louie. Louie excelled in his trade as a shoe cobbler,being very attentive and excelling in doing his work to perfection. He also values others and shows attentiveness,respect,kindness,and compassion to each persons situation/ awareness level of situations without judgement. Louie emulates Compassion and real love of others by listening solely to each person,only supplying positive solutions for consideration if asked,not overstepping-the fact,God gave each individual Free choice in all situations. Louie is a healer of souls,and people really came to him because they knew they didn’t have to fear being judged,as well as learning takes place most readily in a nurturing safe loving environment.
    Louie reminds me of The stories about Jesus,and several people I have had the pleasure of knowing as Gems on life’s journey!
    Johnny, you are one of these Gems!

  7. Patricia

    Thank you for sharing this wonderful cherished memory. We never forget the kindness of people like Louie.

    • John Cali

      You’re most welcome, Patricia. Louie was a major, positive influence on many of us back in those days.

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