Footprints · 31 July 2021

There are probably enough footprints in the sand analogies out there already, but I thought I would add my own anyway.

Footprints in the sand are interesting. Rather, making footprints in the sand is interesting. Sometimes we leave deep impressions. Sometimes, we leave nary a trace. But regardless of the types of impressions we make, the footprints always disappear. Whether by sea or wind or merely time, they all disappear.

Which is not a very good analogy for life. Especially, if you liken those footprints to impressions you make on other people’s lives. At least not if you think about it too much. The thing about time making them vanish is the worst thought of all if you liken it to people’s hearts. But it is kinda the way things really are.

Think about it. There are people who come into our lives who might make a deep impression at the time, but we forget about them eventually. There are people who make hardly any impression at all, and we forget about them almost immediately. But we all know that there are people who have made an impression in our lives that we can never forget. How do they fit into the footprints in the sand analogy?

First of all, I am not sure that we should take analogies too seriously. After all, every analogy breaks down at a certain point. Remember, they are just analogies. That means that they only work to a certain degree. Still, I think there is more to the footprint analogy than meets the eye. (It is interesting that sometimes we start out a thought by enumerating it as the first thing, but then never have a second. I suppose that is a completely different story though.)

I was thinking about footprints in our lives when I was at the beach recently. I noticed that the footprints I left on the hard sand left little to no footprint at all. At least the impressions were not distinguishable as footprints. I also noticed that really soft sand left a deep impression, without much detail. The footprints I left depended mostly on the wetness and hardness of the sand. Sure, I could make better footprints with more pressure or by jumping or running, but even then, the condition of the sand was the deciding factor on whether I made a big or little or even no impression in the sand. Which was what got me thinking about footprints in the sand and our impressions on other people.

The impressions we leave on other people often depend on the conditions of their hearts. When their hearts are open to it, we might leave deep abiding impressions on others. The more I thought about it though, the more I realized that being open to others is not really what matters when it comes to impressions. When it comes to footprints on people’s lives.

When it comes to footprints on our hearts, the thing that matters most is what is happening at the time. People leave the deepest, clearest footprints on our hearts when we have the deepest emotions. When our circumstances are really good or really bad, when our emotions are really high or really low, when our lives are really great or really terrible, other people can leave deep and lasting footprints on our hearts. The condition of the sand always determines the impression of the footprint. So it is with people in our lives. The condition of our lives determines the impressions people leave on our hearts.

I know the analogy breaks down a bit with the whole time erasing all vestiges of footprints we leave on the beach, but I will still take it a little further by getting a little technical.

Sand is a big part of concrete. And sometimes people leave their footprints in our hearts in what seems to be wet sand, but was in reality wet concrete. And those footprints are the ones that last forever. Tide, wind, and time will still take their toll on those concrete footprints, but they will still be there even if they are worn and faded. They are the impressions that last forever.

I had more to the whole analogy, but I do not think that it is really worth mentioning that sometimes the lasting impression we leave on others does not leave that much of an impression on us. For sometimes that small act of kindness we do with so little effort or even thought might mean the world to the other person. We might leave a footprint in concrete when we thought we were walking on sand. But that part of the analogy does not really fit the story, so I will not even mention it.

When it comes right down to it, I know that others have left many concrete footprints on my heart. Time may have worn down those footprints, but they are still there. I suppose when it comes right down to it, we never really know whether we are treading on sand or concrete and others do not know whether they are either. So it is best if we can leave the best footprints we can. Usually by treading lightly. Certainly by treading purposefully.

Well, I hope you enjoyed my footprints in the sand analogy. I know I enjoyed thinking about it and writing about it. Even if the my impression on you does not last very long.

© 2021 Michael T. Miyoshi

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