Picking up where I left off two weeks ago, I’m still following tracks outside in the snow. But the snow has melted quite a bit since last week’s storm. What was once so light and powdery that I had no trouble shoveling has now been pressed down to a wetter level by the sun’s rays. The tracks we left last week have widened so much that our tracks look as if giants walked around outside the house. The coyote tracks look like those of much larger dogs, with claw marks that might resemble that of a bear. I’m glad I saw them when they were fresh.
I was sick over the weekend, so I had too much time on my hands. I contemplated those tracks outside the window and thought about the those imprints we leave behind in life. You know what I’m talking about? Tracks such as words I’ve spoken to someone out of compassion, or maybe out of anger. Maybe out of fear. What kind of impact do my actions and words make on others?
Two friends of mine from high school lost their mothers last week. Since I no longer live in that community, do I ignore their loss and go on with my life, or do I send cards of encouragement because I’ve lost my own mother and understand how they feel? Taking no action would leave no footprint. Maybe a card wouldn’t matter much to them, or maybe words written by a friend who understands their loss could impact them in ways I can never imagine. This is a time when I should consider my footprint.
An obviously very troubled woman tried to start a fight with me over a cart at the grocery store the other day. Yes, really! Her unwarranted hostility caught me off guard. I immediately got away from the woman and reached for another cart while someone else reprimanded both of us for fighting. That further caught me off guard, because I hadn’t said a word. The incident left a footprint in me. Instead of walking around the store with a friendly smile, I kept my head down, grabbed what I needed, and got out as quickly as possible.We can all be affected by someone else’s footprint. Others might have been affected by a smile from me that day, but I closed myself off out of fear of another attack.
The words we speak or write, the things we do for or against others, have chain reactions. If I speak caustic words to someone out of anger, that could affect that person’s life for days, weeks, even for life, depending on my words. It could also affect their loved ones, or even my loved ones, if that person holds a grudge.
I’m trying to pay more attention to the spread of my footprint in this world lately. How is your footprint doing?