So, it was the year 2000, and walking down the breezeway of Sabine Middle School as a sixth grader was an everyday activity. On this particular day, a memory was born.
One of my peers walks up next to me and starts to make these weird, wide, staggered, elongated steps. I blow it off and worry about the only thing that was concerning to me, which was the drums.
I made my way to the band hall, which was my home away from home, at least while I was at school. I swing the doors open, rush in and grab my assigned snare drum and make my way to bus number 10. As I get settled in, I think, “Why was he walking like that?” Something about it sticks to me like sticker burrs in the summer in Texas.
Five years later, I’m a student at Pine Tree High School in Longview, Texas, and one of my classmates proceeds to make those same wide, staggered, elongated steps. I knew at that point that I was being made fun of by both of those little students — little punks — that’s what I really wanted to say.
Jane: So when you moved to Pine Tree, you kept playing bass drums?
Casey: No, I actually transitioned into playing snare drum, and then when I transitioned into playing snare drum, I don’t know what happened. They just didn’t want me to, so I ended up playing cymbals and when I ended up playing cymbals, I was like, “Oh, okay,” because nobody wanted to play cymbals. Who in the heck wants to play cymbals when you could play snare drum instead or even bass drum?
When I moved to Pine Tree, I moved from a three-person percussion section to an actual drum line of like 20 people. That may be in exaggeration, it may be like 12. But man, I was frustrated, so I took my cymbals home every single day for like two weeks and sat in my backyard and learned how to twirl and spin symbols.
I learned how to twirl them and spin them in between my legs and flip them in the air and do things while they’re in the air and then get up and catch them and then go back into the Harlem Shake that I did at every single pep rally. Yeah, it was great. It was so cool. The first time I ever got out in the audience and did the Harlem Shake and then did everything I wanted to do, they were like, “Casey, come back, come back!”
And everybody else was like, “Oh my God, what’s he about to do?” And then I just did my thing. And then the principal was like, “Yo, Casey, that was a good job.” And then the assistant principal was like, “Yo, that was awesome.” And then counselors were like, “Yeah, that was really cool.” And then the students were like, “Yay!” Then, at every single pep rally, it was an expected thing. It was like, “What’s Casey gonna do?”
The only thing that was frustrating me was the fact that I had done numerous things to try to overcome my flat feet and developed the ability to do the things that people without flat feet could do normally. I had tried countless things, from rolling hard, cylindrical things underneath to try to form arches that simply were not there, to doing toe extensions to try to strengthen my feet and my ankles, to purchasing those basketball shoes with the arches in them. But simply two weeks later, my feet just flattened them out.
The frustration wasn’t because I was being made fun of or belittled. You see, it was simply because I had done those things countless times, and every single time, they were being pointed out something about it. It just didn’t feel right.
When I was in second grade, in the year 1994, I joined Cub Scouts, and I was so excited because I was going on my first campout called Mom and Me. Halfway through the first day, I simply could not walk due to the soreness in my feet. It made it so difficult that I could not even stand up. At one point in time, my mom, who I called The Ultimate G, gave me the ultimate sense of strength at that point in time. She lifted me up and carried me to the first aid station where I could get my ankles wrapped, but I still could not walk.
My mom, The Ultimate G, picked me up again and carried me all the way to the campsite. As I rested a little bit, she asked me if I wanted to still continue with the activities, knowing good and well that she was gonna have me do it anyway. She’s always been a stickler for having me experience different things that would allow me to see and gain perspectives on life.
So, at that point in time, she picked me up and carried me from that activity station to another activity station to the one over there in the far corner of the campsite of the whole Camp Pirtle Boy Scout Camp. And that was the example of the ultimate strength that has been guiding me throughout my whole entire life.
In the year 2015, I am grown adult. I travel to see my mom in Humble, Texas. She says, “Hey, we’re gonna go to this place, get in the car.” We load up, make my way to this place called Good Feet. I walk in and they sit me down and they fit me for these custom orthotics. And I’m elated because I had tried several different Doctor’s Scholls orthotics and every one of the orthotics that you can get from Walgreens, CVS or whatever. And none of those things seem to work.
When I’ve gone to a few different podiatrists, they have told me that they have never seen anybody with feet as flat as mine.
Jane: No kidding?
Casey: Yeah. They’re so flat that because you know, like you have an arch, right? It sits like right here in your foot, right? So, since you have that arch, it takes up residency. My feet do this, which means that my knee goes this way naturally. So, if I walk with my feet like this as opposed to like this, I walk kind of pigeon toed, I think. I don’t really know. I don’t know what it looks like when I walk, ever. I think I walk differently every single time I walk. Sometimes I try to work on it, sometimes I get lazy and complacent and I don’t wanna work on it. It’s crazy.
I now serve as a licensed chemical dependency counselor in Lufkin, Texas, for adolescents. I often get asked by them, “Mr. Casey, why you walk like that?” I simply say, “That’s just my pimp walk man, it is what it is” — knowing that I have full intention to explain to them the story and the transparency of what that is. It allows me to relate to them in a place to where I give them guidance and I give them lessons that are really awesome for me to teach and tell them.
I need them to understand that through everything — every single one of the hidden gifts, every single one of the gifts you can gain, you can understand a source of strength and a source of endurance. My name is Casey Muse Williams, and this is the story of my flat feet.
Casey “Muze” Williams hails from Longview, Texas. In 2016, he founded Star Avenue Co., a nonprofit based in Nacogdoches, celebrating harmonious participation in the arts. Casey holds 20 years of training as a performance percussionist for rhythm instruments and in sound engineering.
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