“One’s options in this world are as vast as the horizon, which is technically a circle and thus infinitely broad. Yet we must choose each step we take with utmost caution, for the footprints we leave behind are as important as the path we will follow. They’re part of the same journey — our story.”
― Lori R. Lopez
“I think that’s what we all want, in the end.
To know that we left footprints when we passed by, however briefly.
We want to be remembered.
So remember us.
― Mike A. Lancaster
Your way was through the sea,
your path through the great waters;
yet your footprints were unseen.
~Psalm 77:19 (ESV)
Life is a journey, and the footprints that we leave behind are interesting things. Each footprint is different, and there are no two that are alike. Wherever we go, we leave footprints behind us. Some people leave big footprints, and some leave small footprints. There are others who leave wide footprints, and those who leave narrow ones. Sometimes the footprints we leave are evanescent, quickly fading, just as the footprints left in the sand are soon erased away by time and the force of the waves.
Some footprints are long lasting. Those are the kind of footprints that people should be striving to achieve. The home we currently live in is an older one, but it is special because it’s the first home we’ve owned. The subdivision where our home resides was developed in the mid to late 1970’s, making our home nearly 40 years old. Besides having a wide and inviting front porch to relax on, the hominess of this house beckoned us to it when we first found it four years ago. In a way, our home is unique because we purchased it from the original owners who had it built many years ago. Although the house had sat empty for quite some time when we first looked at it, there was a sense of love and belonging that permeated the walls, and we could feel it when we first walked in the door. In fact, when we first looked at the home, I almost imagined that I could hear the voices of the family who lived, loved, and laughed in the home for more than 32 years before we bought it. It was a house that was well loved and continues to be loved by us.
When the neighborhood was developed, sidewalks were planned and built up and down every street in the neighborhood for pedestrians to use. One can travel to any part of the neighborhood using these sidewalks. On the side of our home facing the driveway, we noticed that there were tiny little footprints of a long gone child permanently embedded into the sidewalk. My wife and I thought that these footprints were just about the coolest thing we’d ever seen, and I often found myself wondering how these footprints had come to be in the sidewalk, and who had made them. Two of my neighbors directly across the street have been here since the neighborhood’s inception in the 1970’s. One day I happened to be outside when one of my neighbors was walking her dog, and I just so happened to think about asking her if she knew the story of the footprints. She indeed knew how the footprints came to be and proceeded to tell me the story of a little boy who had grown up in the neighborhood many years before. This little boy apparently lived in the house next to mine when they were pouring the sidewalk. She told me that before anyone could stop him, he pulled his shoes off and walked through the freshly poured cement, forever immortalizing the prints of his tiny feet. My guess is that they either didn’t catch the fruits of his labor before the cement dried, or they thought it was cute and left it as it was. I suppose his mother was not amused at all on that day many years ago to find out that her child had cement all over his feet. The footprints don’t go far. They actually start a short distance up from my house and then terminate almost directly in front of my driveway. But they’re still there nearly 40 years later, and tell the journey of a small boy who one day took a walk down the sidewalk.
Even though the mystery of the footprints has been solved, I have often wondered about that little boy. Where did he go when he moved, and whatever ended up happening to him? What did he grow up to become? Does he remember the footprints he once left in my sidewalk, and has he ever returned to see them? You see, whether he knew it or not, he was destined to leave permanent footprints on that fateful day when he decided to go for a stroll in the freshly poured cement of the sidewalk. These are footprints that can still clearly be seen nearly 40 years later, and they cause people to stop and ponder where they came from.
The evanescence of footprints left in the sand pose a stark contrast to the enduring footprints of those left in stone. In our lives, we leave many footprints. Everywhere we go we leave footprints. These footprints tell the journey from whence we have come and to whither we go. They tell the story of what we have done and of what we have achieved. We also leave footprints in the lives of people. In the scope of eternity, our time here on earth amounts to the mere blink of an eye. But like the footprints left by the child in the newly built sidewalk many years ago, the foot prints we leave in the lives of people should be long lasting. After you have left your footprints behind, you may never return to see them again. If you have left footprints that are indelible, they will no doubt be felt and seen by many for generations to come.
In conclusion, life is too short for us to be concerned with those things that are of transient nature. Whether it is the relationships that you form with others, or the things that you choose to occupy your time with, let your mark be seen and felt. In my own life, I am grateful for those who have invested in me and left permanent footprints in my life. Some of them are no longer here, but their footprints continue to be seen and felt by me. May your footprints be forever and a day, and may they leave a lasting mark in the lives of all those you will meet.
“Some people come into our lives and quickly go. Some people move our souls to dance. They awaken us to a new understanding with the passing whisper of their wisdom. Some people make the sky more beautiful to gaze upon. They stay in our lives for awhile, leave footprints on our hearts, and we are never, ever the same.”
― Flavia Weedn
Much love and Godspeed,
(Note: I have not had time to write to this blog lately due to dealing with a plumbing catastrophe in my home last week that caused extensive damage.)
I don’t usually share creative stuff that I write, but I wanted to share a poem that I wrote recently. Because it’s so close and personal to me, I’m still not ready to share “Journey to the Sea,” but I do want to share with you “Remember Me, A Nod to Edgar.” This poem was written as a response to Poe’s “A Dream Within A Dream.” Poe’s poem is in the public domain and can be found in several places on the internet as well as in numerous anthologies of poetry. For that reason, I’m not going to post the original poem here, but I am going to share my response. I like it enough that I think I will let it be the conclusion for my upcoming book. It was a really fun piece for me to write, and I wrote it in the form of a poetic response to Edgar Allen Poe. When I wrote this, I imagined that I was having a conversation with Poe and responding to his original poem.
“A Dream Within A Dream” is very special to me because it was the poem that I chose to recite for my therapist during my time of speech and auditory rehabilitation. I first learned of it and read it while I was in college. It’s quite different from the much darker style of writing that readers of Poe’s works are accustomed to. What does my response to Poe’s poem mean? Well, I obviously know what it means, but it’s ultimately up to you to figure it out. Leave a response below at the end of this blog entry if you wish!
“Remember Me, A Nod To Edgar”
As you stand amid the roar
And you watch the surf torment the shore,
Remember me, as the warm wind blows
As the evening sun sets and brings this journey to a close.
I’ve held the many grains of golden sand, and I weep
Because I’ve watched them creep, oh how they creep.
I’ve grasped the golden grains in my fingers, but yet they seep;
And they still slip away, so far far away to the deep.
And when you hear the waves come crashing ashore,
Think of me and grasp your own golden grains once more.
Hold them closely while you can, so tightly in the palm of your hand,
For they will soon slip away; they are but mere grains of golden sand.
O God! Can we not grasp them with a tighter clasp?
O God! Can we not save one from the pitiless wave?
But alas, we can’t for it has been deemed
That everything that we see or seem,
Is nothing more than a dream within a dream.
Yes, Edgar, I too have seen the surf tormented shore.
Yes, Edgar, I too have heard the sea’s mighty roar.
It sometimes seems that hope has flown away
Perhaps in the night, or in the day.
Perhaps it is true, for it so oft does seem
That my days have been nothing but an unreal dream.
So just remember me, as the warm wind will blow.
Life is just a dream, and where it leads one cannot know.
(A Response to E.A. Poe’s “A Dream Within a Dream”)
“But you know, I feel more fellowship with the defeated than with saints. Heroism and sanctity really don’t appeal to me, I imagine. What interests me is being a man.”
~Albert Camus, The Plague ~
Genuine… We most often hear this word used in the context when a company wishes to assert a product, or perhaps promote a service as being authentic or real. I was recently reminded of this word when my mother, Denise, and I were going to a quick, impromptu lunch at my aunt’s house before helping her clean out a very nasty storage shed crammed with decades of junk. We stopped on the way, and my mother bought a bottle of GENUINE Faygo soda pop as part of our contribution to the lunch. For those of you who aren’t from the south, Faygo is a particular brand of soda that has existed for just about as long as I can remember. Based on my research, it has existed for much longer than I have been alive, since the early 1900’s it seems. Since I grew up drinking Faygo, I was certainly surprised to see the word GENUINE written at the top of the bottle. While I understand that this is only a marketing strategy devised by the good folks at Faygo, I was a little taken aback. In fact, I was left wondering: “Faygo is a lesser known brand, so why go out of the way to make sure buyers know it’s GENUINE. Is there any drink out there pretending to be Faygo?” I will admit that I was slightly amused since we really don’t drink soda at all anymore, and I hadn’t seen or tasted a Faygo soda in at least several years. It just took me by surprise and had me sort of wondering why Faygo felt the need to assure me that I was purchasing a GENUINE product of theirs.
Last year, I bought a top of the line Brother multi-function machine for our home office. This beast of a machine has multiple paper trays, a built in fax machine, and it can print, scan, copy and fax with duplex capability up to ledger size (11X17) paper format.
It really is the Cadillac ® of printers as far as features go. It has features that I have yet to discover and use. When I was un-boxing this printer last year (and it took both Denise and me to lift it out of the box), I noticed there was a sticker on the front of the machine that identified the model numbers of the ink cartridges. At the very top of this sticker, the good people at Brother strongly encouraged users to “use only GENUINE Brother supplies for best results.”
A number of years ago, I had another, much smaller, Brother printer. One day I was shopping for ink on EBay, and noticed that I could get 20 generic ink cartridges for only $10!! Imagine my astonishment and disbelief that I had somehow found such a smoking hot deal. I quickly ordered the knock-off cartridges and gave myself a well deserved pat on the shoulder for being so thrifty. When the cartridges came in, I noticed that they would not work when put in the printer. They were DUDS. I must have gone through five different cartridges before I found one that successfully worked with the printer. And all the while, ink was leaking and dripping on my hands. It was a terrible mess. Well, in my quest to save money and use knock off cartridges from E-Bay, I ultimately ended up ruining my printer. You see, those NON-GENUINE cartridges leaked everywhere to the point where they ruined the print head in the printer. The cartridges looked like GENUINE Brother Cartridges, and for all intents and purposes were certainly designed to work with my particular printer. But these fake, knock-off cartridges were trying to deliver a performance that didn’t quite go as promised, and they were pretending to be something that they could never be. You see, they weren’t GENUINE, and they failed miserably, leaving me with a ruined printer. On a side note, I learned my lesson the hard way. I have never used anything but GENUINE Brother cartridges in my new and very expensive multi-function machine. I order all my printing supplies from www.bluedogink.com, a great place to buy just about any type of printer ink or toner that you could possibly need. No, the people at www. bluedogink.com didn’t pay me for giving them a shameless plug, and I don’t get any special discounts on products ordered; but I’ve had such great service from this company that I thought I’d give them a shout-out. Their prices are lower than buying from a big name store. Anyway, the bottle of GENUINE Faygo soda that I was telling you about earlier got to me to thinking this past week. And in my random musings, I started thinking about something that is really important to me: GENUINE people.
For the sake of clarity, let’s examine how Merriam Webster’s Dictionary defines the word genuine :
:actual, real or true: not false or fake
:sincere and honest
- A: actually having the reputed or apparent qualities or character
- B: actually produced by or proceeding from the alleged source or author
With this definition, we gain an idea of what the word GENUINE actually means. If I buy a GENUINE part for my car, I’m supposed to be purchasing something that is real and not an imitation or knock off of the true item. If I purchase a bottle of GENUINE Coca-Cola ®, I should be drinking the original beverage with its undeniable taste, and not a bottle of nastiness such as Kroger’s BIG-K Cola. There is a difference! A couple of years ago, the oxygen sensor failed on my car. I purchased an after-market part from Autozone and installed it on a Friday. By Monday, it had failed again, leaving me with a check engine light that once again illuminated on my dashboard. I returned it and went to the automobile dealership’s parts counter and purchased an original GENUINE oxygen sensor. Guess what. It cost nearly twice as much as the aftermarket unit, but it’s still functioning almost 5 years later!
So, having said all of that, this brings me to the main point of what I want to talk about. GENUINE people. If we take Webster’s meaning of the word GENUINE, and literally apply it, we can figure out that a GENUINE person is one who is real and true, not false and fake. A GENUINE person is one who is also sincere and honest. I really do love the quote by Camus that I’ve shared at the top of this blog entry. “I feel more fellowship with the defeated than with saints.” The same goes for me. I feel more drawn to those people who really know who they are and have no qualms about admitting it.
Sadly, we live and function in a me-centric society. In the digital era of Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, people are more concerned than ever with constantly making themselves look perfect for society and making sure that they conform to society’s expectations. Perfect people don’t exist. I’m sorry, but they just don’t. Even those who appear to always have it together, rarely if ever do. You see, we as human beings are inherently flawed creatures in many ways. I often tell those who know me that I’m the least perfect person that you could possibly meet. I’m not the smartest, the fastest, the best looking, the richest, or the most personable. Sometimes, I’m not even the nicest, the friendliest, or the most outgoing person either. But I try to be GENUINE, caring, and compassionate. I try to be real and honest. You see, I can’t possibly pretend to be anyone else than who I am. If someone doesn’t like me for who I really am, then that’s just too bad. There’s nothing I can do about it. There’s a song called “I Can Only Be Me” written by Stevie Wonder that was recorded by the late and great Eva Cassidy. It’s a beautiful song, and it talks about how I can only be me, and you can only be you. Those who really and truly know me know that I don’t hide anything. I am often known for being brutally honest and usually tell it like it is. I don’t sugarcoat anything.
There’s a saying out there that I know is absolutely true. John C. Maxwell states:
“People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care”
This next week, I challenge you to be GENUINE with those you meet. People don’t care how much you know or about empty promises that you can’t possibly hope to fulfill. What they want to know is how much you care and if you’re really who you say you are. Don’t be like the fake ink cartridges I once ordered and promise something that you can’t possibly deliver. Don’t be like the aftermarket oxygen sensor I once bought and flake out after the weekend is over. Don’t try to be someone that you can’t possibly ever be. Just be real and just be you. Life’s too short for anything less. I don’t believe in re-incarnation, so that means that we pretty much only have one chance in this lifetime to get it right. And the only way you will get it right is by being GENUINE.
Much love and Godspeed,