Along with the rest of the world, I was watching television on July 20, 1969 when Neil Armstrong first stepped out of Apollo 11’s lunar module and became the first human being to plant his foot on the moon.
“That’s one small step for man; one giant leap for mankind,” he uttered.
Armstrong left his footprints on the moon for eternity. American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote, “Lives of great men all remind us we can make our lives sublime. And, departing, leave behind us footprints on the sands of time.”
The majority of human beings do not lead lives that bring fame and ensure their names will be printed in history books for posterity. But every one of us does leave footprints nevertheless.
Footprints are obviously what we leave behind us. They show where we’ve been, past tense. “The footprints you leave behind will influence others. There is no person who at some time, somewhere, somehow, does not lead another.” ~ Unknown
The question that arises in my mind is “How do my footprints influence others?” When we look back at our past, sometimes we’re most pleased about where our footprints show we’ve been. Other times, we’re ashamed to say our footprints reveal parts of our past of which we’re not very proud. But all those steps we took reveal our legacy, a heritage, for those who come after us.
Contemplating the reality of that is a sobering thought. What kind of heritage do I want to leave for my children and grandchildren? What do I want my friends and loved ones to remember about my life? What impact do I make on people who may have never met me but are reading my written words?
Leaving our footprints is an immense job with an awesome responsibility because our actions do influence other people, be it positively or in a negative fashion. I’ve heard people say good friends leave footprints on our hearts.
Eleanor Roosevelt, wife of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, once said, “Many people will walk in and out of your life, but only true friends will leave footprints in your heart.”
No doubt those footprints loved ones inscribe on our hearts are pleasant, rewarding and remind us of lovely memories. Some people leave footprints that inspire us, encourage us and spark enthusiasm in us.
But I believe those who wrong us, abuse us or willfully harm us also leave their stamps on our hearts. They trample us with their footprints and leave us wounded, often times bitter and filled with rage. In some cases, the footprints they’ve ground into us become our very own which we use to step on others.
So today on this second page in Chapter 4 of my Opportunity book, I must ask myself – what kind of footprint legacy am I leaving behind? Join me tomorrow as I pursue this question in Part 2 of Footprints.