Footprints

When there’s nothing but 360 degrees of blue sea and sky, an aft view on open sea is amazing! The engine’s work leaves a telltale story of movement. It doesn’t tell you where the ship is going, but definitely shows where it’s been.

Deep blue sea water grabbed by the engines moves the giant vessel along and the “footprint”, as nautical folks call it, trails the ship as far as the eye can see.

The propellers bite, chew and spit out twisting, turning, churning rolls of foamy oxygenated water. Man made waves roll behind the ship and collide over and over, as if two beaches are arguing in an aggressive wave dance off. Again and again the waves collide and each collision becomes more subdued.

A quarter mile out the water calms into a smooth, light blue path with distinct lines of divided sea, as if Moses had just worked a miracle.  Even farther there are waves on both sides of the footprint, even whitecaps, but where the ship has been, it is strangely, eerily calm all the way to the horizon.

I snapped a picture with my feet propped up in the window seal as if on top of the outflow. An overwhelming thought lingers with that picture. It’s that life is like the ship’s footprint. We don’t know for sure about tomorrow, but we know where we’ve been.

A haunting question makes me wonder, what footprints am I leaving in life? Is it a peaceful, calm, smooth path to follow? Or tumultuous, divided seas? Is there intentional direction in my footprints? Or just a casual, wandering sail through life?

Today, the to do list, problems, the unknown, stresses of the here and now all churn up colossal waves that crash together. Yet over time, they tend to smooth out in footprints. Which will be remembered? The colliding waves of today’s foamy problems, or the gentle, light blue path further back?

I don’t remember a lot of the things that seemed so consuming, so important twenty years ago, or last year, or even a few days ago. What were the scores of soccer and baseball teams I coached in the past, that at the time, in that moment, seemed so very, very important. At the time, making sure the corner kicks were executed perfectly, that every player knew the out was at second base, and who had snack that day seemed paramount.

Honestly, I don’t remember my college GPA, if I was late for the last dental appointment or how much tires cost ten years ago. I don’t remember what mutual funds were in my 401(k) in past years, or what was for lunch on any random day, say February 24. Who won the Super Bowl three years ago? Or what was that comment your friend said a couple of years ago that made you so upset?

We fretted. We shopped. We planned for Christmas gifts last year, but do you remember what you got everyone? Or what you got? What’s the last email, post or text message that will stick with you forever? Can you even name one?

Over time, worries, concerns and priorities of today fade into the smooth part of the ship’s footprint.

On the face of it, I agonize that cruelness beats kindness, bad triumphs over good, while wrong is accepted but right is rejected. I fret that truth dies quickly, yet lies and rumors seemingly live forever. I wonder why it seems no one appreciates sacrifice, or even acknowledge responsible behavior.  Is it all just a corner kick of today, an out at second base, or water being churned to move life along? I don’t know.

Looking behind the ship, there’s no doubt the path and even that the things of today are important. But in the end, the churning waters of today’s problems and worries won’t be nearly so important ten years from now, or even next month. Heck, chances are, we won’t even remember what they were.

Look back at the footprints. What good, or bad, will be remembered on the horizon?

For the bad, the course can be adjusted if need be. Turn two degrees to the left, or spin the helm thirty degrees right, or full steam ahead. Whatever it takes to get where you, where I, want to be.

On the other hand, for the good things remembered on the horizon, those are the most important things. Make more footprints in that direction, lots of them, doing those things.

It won’t change the problems or the water churning today, but tomorrow, the footprints will be just where you want them!

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