By Diane Hyzy
Walking along the beach on a recent vacation, I couldn’t help but notice all of the many different types of tracks that took up residence.
Thinking about it further had me believing that all of these diverse sand impressions are representative of the journey that we take on our road map of life.
The footprints themselves tell a story. From small toddler tracks with pudgy toes to lean teenage feet to deep, adult tracks, they all signify a person’s lifespan. How fortunate we would be if we could experience all of these different lifetime phases.
I think about the people making these tracks. Was it their first experience at a beach? Did they initiate the visit or were they brought by someone else? The stories behind the tracks can be endless.
Another common sighting is wheel tracks, and these are more difficult to decipher. I wonder what is behind these winding, uniform ruts in the sand. Could they be from a child’s wagon packed to the brim with toys for a day of fun at the beach? Or a pair of bicycles from a young couple maneuvering through a first date? Or even perhaps those of a wheelchair or walker from a mature beachgoer, refusing to let age rob her of her love of the sand and sea?
Animal tracks take on a whole new curiosity. From the tiny imprints of a seagull to the pads of a dog’s feet to the unmistakable pattern of a horseshoe, the tracks remind us how animals intertwine their lives with those of humans. For many people, a day at the beach includes both the two-legged and four-legged family members.
The very direction of the prints can also be thought-provoking. Some appear to be moving in a similar direction, representing those who are moving forward with us, while others are going in the opposite course, signifying a departure. Our life is full of people who come and go.
Some tracks seem to go on forever while others seem to stop abruptly. There are footprints fresh and defined while others seem to soften and disappear at the water’s edge. I’m sure we can all think of people in our lives who have had staying power and others who have faded away like the changing tides.
The very gait of the tracks also tells a tale. Some footsteps may be close together, signaling a lazy stroll along a familiar stretch of beach, while others may be further apart with just the front of the foot present, making one think of an athlete out for his early morning 5-mile workout. Whether slow or fast, both are moving forward with a clear purpose.
Some tracks look as if they are the lone set while others appear to be from a group of walkers. This reminds me of the way we live our lives.
Occasionally we have to move along in an independent manner, but ultimately we need the presence of family and friends to make our life’s journey richer.
For an early riser, he or she may be the one making the very first set of tracks on a pristine expanse of beach. This brings to mind the times in our life when we have to be the sole trailblazer. Although this can be intimidating, it can also be exhilarating to have a fresh canvas to begin a new experience.
So whether you’re coming or going, young or old, alone or part of a group, be mindful of the variety of prints on your path. What story would the tracks in your life tell?