following footsteps

Are you a shell searcher? A minnow catcher? Or a destroyer of castles?

I have been all of the above on my late-night beach walks over the years. The soft light from the moon and the vacant beach are a shell searcher’s heaven. A small net and flashlight can lead one to believe she is the greatest fisher of all time. So patient. So skilled. Or the rebellious teenage streak kicks in, and nothing can stop the desire to destroy every sand sanctuary on the east coast.

Nowadays I look more like a jumping idiot on my late-night walks. Step. Step. Leap. Stop. Slight left. Jump right. Step. Step.

It’s not the most romantic way to walk on the beach, but it is the most fascinating. I love walking in existing footprints. Matching strides with a small child, a grown man, tracing the steps to the edge of the ocean, or following them as they go in circles.

Each set of prints is someone’s journey. Some print-makers knew their direction or destination. Others ran aimlessly in circles enjoying the moment.

As much as I enjoy walking in the footsteps of others, I am reminded of one thing. If I walk in their steps, I will only take their path.

It is so tempting at times to want to walk in someone else’s footsteps becuase it’s certain or succesful. When I have no direction of my own, I often jump on someone’s journey to keep from running aimlessly in circles. However, if I walk in their steps, I will only take their path. I will only reach their destination.  

Maybe a better option is to walk beside the footsteps of mentors and coaches, so I can see their direction but have the freedom to create my own. The freedom to choose. The option to be courageous. Oh, to be bold enough to sprint in a new direction facing the unknown joys and challenges.

If I want to stop by the peir and run in circles, I can. If I want to sprint to the next destination, I can. Either way, I am feeling the sand of experience shift beneath my feet and the rush of cool water lap against my ankles.

I may get lost or spin in circles, but of one thing I am sure–these are my footsteps. This is my journey.

And I love it.

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