‘You must stick to your convictions, but be ready to abandon your assumptions’ – Denis Waitley. What are your convictions?
Phew! It has indeed been a long period of re-evaluation,reminiscing, re-education etc Every new day should truly be treated as though it may be your last because, hey! it could be. Over the last 4 weeks at The Wood, we have been looking at the subject of ‘What kind of footprints are you leaving behind?’ and I remember experiencing my first snowfall (ironically I stayed up all night because the forecast was for sometime in the wee hours of the morning), sneaking out of the house in my new pair of snow boots and just taking a walk in the snow – funny that right now, I for one could do with some snow. Oh my, the excitement of seeing the footprints I left behind; and it strikes me how funny it is that regardless of enthusiasm or the passion to learn something new, we are all leaving footprints behind. Life in itself is a journey that we all must must make.
One story strikes a chord within me – the story tells of a man who felt he had gotten the short end of the straw, and as the days went past, he had become a constant fixture at the local tavern in his misconceived notion of drowning out the woes of life. Ignoring his family, he would make a beeline for the tavern from the coal mine and most times, he never recollected how he made it home. Many who had tried to intervene felt it was a thankless task and so he usually was left alone. Until one ordinary evening in winter as he made his usual trip to the tavern, he heard some noise behind him and needless to say that curiosity got the better of him. Turning around, he saw his young son all bundled up in his little winter clothing, with head bent and face all screwed up in concentration, walking towards him – each tiny stride in the deep snow made with such an effort that he could not help but call out to his son. On hearing his father call out his name, the little boy lifted up his head and stretched out on his tiny face was this huge beam of excitement, accomplishment and satisfaction. “Daddy, see me! I am following in your footprints”….. With tears coursing down his bearded face, the father wordlessly reached out and lifted the little boy into his arms and that was the very last time he was seen at the tavern or with liquor.
Even as I write, I know that this story resonates within you. Many of us unwittingly choose to forget what we have in the face of life’s harsh lessons, huge mistake! Sometimes we get so carried away with our ‘problems’ that we fail to realize that we are headed in a particular direction and even if we are so consumed by the situation or present circumstances, one thing is inevitable – our destination and direction is always marked by our footprints. We may have become so overwhelmed by the circumstances we are in, that curiosity does not even get the better of us anymore and so we fail to realize and acknowledge that someone could very well be following in our footprints. I recall learning the importance of leaving good footprints in the sands of time as a freshman in high school, and through weekly recitals at the very least, the words of that beautiful poem (A Psalm of Life by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow) are ingrained in my heart (specifically the 7th verse)….
‘Lives of great men all remind us
We can make our lives sublime,
And, departing, leave behind us
Footprints on the sands of time’
Does this memory alone stand out so much that it has become a barrier that cannot be breached by the mistakes and errors that we are oft to make? The answer is a definite No! Over the years, it has lost the status of just being a recital of words for me but has gradually metamorphosed into a conviction. The knowledge, acceptance and constant meditation on the fact that my identity has become ensconced in the Identity and Will of a Loving Creator has evoked the transformation of those long learned words into a living part of who I am today. Do the limitations of my earthly body, frail in itself change the truth that I am also leaving footprints? Do the unrelenting battles with a rare medical condition deprive me of my footprints? In all earnestness, my footprints are even more obvious and distinct with my staff.
As each day, newly birthed, is presented to me – I make the choice that regardless of whether I have a million followers or none at all, I choose to leave behind footprints that lead to a destination where hope, love, joy, grace and peace abound. The going has definitely had its share of hard knocks and will still experience some more but the choices I make today have their consequences in my tomorrow, so like any blessed person (we all are, even if we do not acknowledge them), I have realigned priorities and trudge on strengthened by the hope that someone after me will have a less wearying journey. That is all there is to life – what have you done for that person whom you may never meet to make their own journey better? Are we all wrapped up in the self delusion that life is all about what I can get from it? The very fact that you are where you are today is a result of someone else’s sacrifices – your parents, teachers, friends (of-course the good ones) and what an awful shame it will be that we spurn these sacrifices in a foolish attempt to assuage our own selfish needs.
My father always repeats these words ‘no man is an island‘, and putting that phrase in conjunction with the undeniable fact that there is just one of you in the entire universe with a unique gift, talent, skill – just maybe then we are able to catch a glimpse of the big picture. We all have been created for a purpose, and that purpose will always intersect with some other person’s and how shameful it will be when and if our spot at that very significant moment is glaringly absent and empty. Today, we can do something! Disregard how insignificant it might seem to you, I can wholeheartedly assure you that it is very significant to someone else. Or have you been repeatedly kicked down and are on the verge of ‘doing no more for nobody’? Or you might already have made that selfish decision, just remember that you are where you are because Some-One loved you so much that He willingly gave His all for you, in addition to the countless unknown and un-celebrated individuals whose footprints you have followed.
Get out of that rut (even if it has become very comfortable), self constructed or not, and do something that today and even in hindsight will be truly beneficial to someone else. You can begin leaving good footprints today, it is never too late to begin again. And whilst you are at it, remember “Love sought is good but given unsought is better!” – William Shakespeare
ייתכןשהרוחות תמיד תהיה לטובתך עד שנפגשנו שוב!