Footprints seem so solitary, so isolated, so lonely.
Maybe that’s because they are simply a shell of what once was, a reminder that someone – or something – traveled a particular path once-upon-a-time.
I think about this often during my morning jogs through the desert, when the tracks of my running shoes mingle with the footprints of coyotes, javelina, mule deer, jack rabbits and roadrunners.
The curious thing about fresh tracks is the sense of permanence that they initially evoke. An imprint stamped in the dirt reveals things seemingly imperceptible … a sense of authority witnessed by weight; a sense of urgency or leisure based on stride. And in human prints, we read even more into tracks – based on shoe type, barefooted preferences, foot size. Through mankind’s tracks, we envision hopes, dreams, isolation, independence.
I am frequently reminded of just how erasable, how temporary, these desert tracks are. Some mornings, quad and four-wheel-drive tracks snake over the tiny toe prints, pulverizing the short-lived history of past travelers, imprints dispersed again to dust. Other days the trails are traveled by so many – bobcats, skunks, foxes, lizards – that proof of previous visitors sinks away into the sandy soil. The rain and wind, when they come, play their role, too, in erasing these footprints that are much more than empty shells. They are unrecorded stories that can be written again and again.
For Writers: Writers inevitably leave behind a legacy with their work. Their footprints, a bit more permanent, take the form of words – ink on paper in bound books, e-ink on digital book readers, blogs with photos, magazine articles, white papers.
What kind of an impression will your writer’s footprints leave? Are you the kind of writer who wants to make her mark distinct, independent and fierce – one of a kind, with crisp, well-defined, solitary tracks?
Or are you the kind of writer who feels more comfortable leaving behind a trail of comingled tracks – ones that blur along the edges from so many passersby – your readers, family and friends – walking alongside you, sharing your words?