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“In the history of the world, we have left our footprints by our unique stories.”
~Lailah Gifty Akita, Pearls of Wisdom: Great Mind
We all have colorful stories to tell as we make our way through the winding trails of life. Some filled with sorrow, some joyful beyond comprehension. But one thing is certain: Our journey’s are uniquely our own with no two paths alike…and the legacies we create while here will determine the size of the impact we leave behind.
The macro-version of our existence, I suppose could be viewed as though looking down on the hill containing thousands of tiny ants. Yes, like the ants, we each have a purpose and get the job done most days. We are hard-working, carry our loads, mind our own business and do what’s expected. Each of us is crucial to the end goal and has a definitive role to play for the greater good.
But it is in examining the micro-version of our worldly importance that makes me realize that we are so much more than busy ants climbing up the same hill. We are individuals with incredible gifts and talents. Mankind, I believe, is inherently good. And when tested, proves more often than not, that we are giving, noble and kind creatures.
God made man and woman to so that they would not be alone in the world…so that we could help one another.
Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.
With every soul born, the world automatically changes. From birth to death, we leave a different set of footprints in the sand as we maneuver through this thing called life. We bounce off of one another and with each encounter, we make a difference in that persons life, however large or small.
I read a story recently, about a young man who was very poor. He found a strangers wallet on the sidewalk and took it to the high school principal to help him find the owner. The wallet contained the man’s rent, twelve-one hundred dollar bills. Together, they tracked the man down and returned the wallet. This young man had no material wealth himself, but he chose to do the right thing for another human being he had never met before.
And without even knowing it, this young man changed the world. He completely re-wrote the story of a complete stranger. Because of this young man’s selfless actions, he changed the directions of both sets of footprints in the sand.
What could have happened if this young man had not returned the wallet? In what way would this strangers journey have changed? Would he have lost his apartment? Could this have been the one final bout of bad-luck that broke him completely?
We will never really know. But maybe just maybe, because of this young man’s heroic actions… he did more than just restore this stranger financially. Maybe in some way, he healed this man’s faith in humanity just a little bit as well. Perhaps this one act of selflessness planted the seed of kindness in this a complete stranger that grew into a desire to pay this act of kindness forward for someone else who had stumbled. It is in this way, a rippling effect-if you will, that this young man changed the world that fateful day, forever.
In 2007, a 50 year old construction worker was taking his two daughters to school on the subway. A nearby stranger suffered a seizure and fell onto the landing, laying unconscious between the two rails. With the train was rapidly approaching, there was no time to think. He had to act quickly. He jumped onto the tracks and protectively laid on top of the unconscious man as the train rolled over both men, missing them by mere inches.
This construction worker did not wake up that morning and decide he was going to go out and save a man’s life. The beautiful message is that what took place on that subway platform that day was an instantaneous act of human kindness. And there is no doubt, this hero changed the world that day just as much as the young man who returned the wallet.
One can never accurately track the rippling effect of one simple act of kindness or measure of heroism because of the many people it touches over time. The possibilities are endless and can influence generations in ways we could never imagine.
Ironically, it is when we truly contemplate the struggles and needs of those around us, co-existing within our hurried world today, eyes down on the sidewalk to avoid contact, racing from one place to another, worrying about things that in the long run-don’t even matter…that we are able to see how incredibly connected we are. Sometimes, this becomes most evident in those split second decisions that change the directions of our own footprints in ways we could never have predicted.
Our paths with one another cross in ways that are designed to move us, change us, make us better, heal our wounds, force us to grow when we become complacent and to feel a part of the big picture. We were never meant to travel alone. Our set of footprints were meant to be one of many sets, entangled together, crossing sometimes only briefly and then moving on, but always in some way, changed forever.
The impact is real. With each encounter, we are either the changer or the changed. Whether a kind gesture or life-altering collision, a brief meeting on the train or a relationship that spans decades, we are all meant to meet in the sand and either walk together or be changed and move on.
So the real question is:
What stories will you leave behind as your legacy, written in the sand? Will you choose to travel a lonely, straight trail or will you willingly veer off the path if called upon to become a total stranger’s champion?
Heroes are born everyday. Don’t underestimate your power to become one yourself.
So be mindful of the footprints you leave behind. If you’re making only one set of prints in the sand…try to make sure it’s because you’re carrying someone else who needs your strength, love and compassion.
You can make a difference. You can be someone’s hero. Your footprints matter.
As Always…God Bless,