On my morning walks I walk a short distance on a path of golf cart ruts and closely mowed grass. This morning at the end of that trail as I turned to walk back I saw my footprints in the dewy grass. Seeing this made me stop and think about the footprints I am leaving as I walk through this life.
Those who have spent time in state or national parks, wood, forests or hiking in the “back country” will be familiar with the signs that say, “Take only memories, leave only footprints.” This is a quote often attributed to Chief Seattle. In the context of a nature area this means to leave the flowers, rocks and other natural elements where they are, keeping them in your memory or camera and pack out your trash.
Let’s explore the idea of taking only memories and leaving only footprints a bit in the context of the larger picture of life. First the taking.
- How much do we take from life and from the earth? Do we take more that we need? Do we use more than our share of the resources our planet provides for our survival?
- Do we live a life of humility and simplicity, or are we always grabbing for more?
- Do we care that others may not have what they need as long as we have everything we want?
- Are we taking time to make memories that we will take with us throughout our lives and leave for others when we are gone? Are we having experiences we will want to remember? Are we giving these kinds of experiences to our families?
Now let’s think about what we are giving to the world and the footprints we are leaving behind.
- Are we leaving a lot of trash as we go through life? This could be actual physical trash or actions, beliefs or thoughts that cause harm.
- Are we spending our lives collecting up “stuff” that will have little or no meaning in the end?
- Are we shining our light in the world?
- Are we teaching by example?
- Will our footprints show others the way?
We all leave footprints as we walk through this life. Are yours taking you where you really want to go? Are they leading you and those who may follow to life or to destruction?