I was walking on a path recently that I had not traveled before. As I walked I noticed different tread marks and footprints in the ground and gravel. As most of the marks I saw were fresh it made me aware that this was a well worn path. It also gave me an awareness that people and pets would not be the only encounters I would experience. The tracked made me listen better so I knew when a golf cart or bicycle was coming up behind me.
As I walked on this warm afternoon I was reminded of the times in my past years where I stayed on the path and where I felt free to navigate a new direction. I also thought about why I stayed or strayed from the expected path. When I felt safe and strong enough to forge a different path I did, which also meant I had to deal with the dead ends and brambles I encountered. When it didn’t go as expected, I got lost, or I got a little beat up by prickers and bugs I had no one to blame but myself. I was willing to face these bothers in order to have the adventure of traveling my own way.
At other times I stuck to the known and was never tempted by the unknown. During these times I remember I was ‘paying my dues’ and following the expected in order to get where I thought the expected would lead. I followed the process, stayed on course, and moved along quickly towards to goal. The challenge in this traveling method is that there isn’t much to see that everyone else doesn’t also see. I went along and found that at the end I was with everyone else, like everyone else, and didn’t have much of a story to tell because I didn’t have a story different than the other travelers on the path.
The difference in my own journey started when I figured out how to do my own thing while traveling the same direction as everyone else, even if it wasn’t on the exact same path. I distinguished myself when I did the extra thing, traveled the extra mile after I did the same things as everyone else. I took on extra projects, implemented my own ideas after hours, or found a need I had that everyone else had but no one else did anything about. So it became a balance between staying on the well worn path AND taking side trips to see and do what other people didn’t want to work to see or do.
The footprints we leave in life tell people a great deal about us. Are the footprints careful and consistent, or do they meander? Do they stay on the path or make a new path? Do they make the path better for others or only seems to be concerned about the path when they are using the path? Whether we like it or not we do leave remnants from our decisions in life that tell people a great deal about us. What do your footprints tell people about you?