Words & Banter

In Memory Of … Footprints In The Snow

Photo by alzay on iStock

Back in 2004, I met an older couple participating in a Ferrari rally, and after a deep conversation over a long lunch, they became dear friends. It was an event that would change my life in many ways, and several months later, shortly after my husband “surprised” me with a divorce, the husband sent me an email that so moved me that I put it in my “Blue Book”. (A Circa planner with a blue leather cover, hence the name, that includes not only my calendars but also a section with a few things I re-read on a regular basis.)

Last month, he passed away. I always made a point of letting them know that “Footprints” had become an important part of my life. They are words to live by. And, in honor of my dear friend, who is loved and missed, I want to share that email. With no edits … as we do not get to edit our lives …

In the spring of 1972 Sue and I had been married for 18 months and we were dissatisfied with our existence. After some serious soul searching we decided to make a radical change in our lives. Both of us had read a book by the author Louis Bromfield that rhapsodized about the joys of farm life. We were young and adventurous, and we did not realize that Mr. Bromfield was independently wealthy, he was in fact a famous Hollywood screenwriter and not even remotely dependent on farming for a living.

We sold all of the extras that we had accumulated such as our house, my AA Fuel Dragster, Dragster Trailer, and miscellaneous spare engine and associated parts, cashed in my life insurance and moved to a small farm in North Central Missouri twelve miles South of the community of Marshall. We had chosen that latitude carefully reasoning that the land around us needed to change as much as possible during the year if we were going to stay in one place all the time. Marshall, Missouri has four distinct and nearly equal seasons with a long Spring and Fall, a real contrast to the monotony of Houston, Texas. The first year of our Missouri residence we saw the temperature swing one hundred and thirty four degrees, from a high in late July of 106º to a low in January of 1973 of 28º below zero. The land changed around us indeed.

One of my real surprises was learning how much I liked cold weather. I had never really lived anywhere where it snowed very often. I was delighted when we had snows during the night that formed ice crystals in the surface so that when the sun came up in the morning the snow sparkled as if there there was a diamond studded white blanket draped across the fields.

One morning in that first winter I left the house early while I was waiting for the coffee to finish brewing. It had snowed about six inches during the night but dawn broke on a cloudless sky with the blue that only a cold clear morning sky has. I wandered with the rising sun at my back to the top of the closest ridge. When I reached the crest I could see before me a gently undulating pristine white scene with only the sounds of the early morning birds to keep me company. It was a glorious day.

After a few moments I turned to leave and there in the otherwise unbroken white lay a path of solitary footprints. Dumbstruck I realized that I was looking at a metaphor for my life, that each step that I had ever taken led precisely to where I was standing. I turned back around and looked at the future, unmarked waiting for my next footprint and I had an epiphany. If I wanted the footprints of the future to go in a certain direction, or to have a particular shape then it was up to me to make each individual step count. The footprints of the future would leave a history of my choices. That morning in the snow my life changed and I started the footprints that surely lead to where I am standing now.

In time I came to understand that each footprint was necessary to help me reach this moving destination, each misstep, each stumble, each mistake and fall, each heartache and all the joys have made me into the man I am today.

I don't regret a single one.

Drive carefully my friend, the future is before you, the footprints of the past cannot be changed.

After a busy weekend doing all those personal things that pile up during the week, I feel like I need a nap. But ironically, I never think about weekend naps, even though I could “rationalize” them as doing something positive for myself vs. feeling like it’s a “guilty pleasure” (which is how I feel about workday naps).

When I mentioned that to Black, she suggested I reread my post below (I still laugh at one of the places Black has taken power naps). She then added that it was a selfish request as she knows that my work, not to mention my mood, improves from recharging my batteries.

I'm sitting at my computer but I see our big black labradoodle, Moo (imagine calling for her on the street), curled up for a nap in an armchair. I look at her with love but also with more than a touch of envy. Because as much as the stacks of papers on my desk beckon (or is it taunts) me, a nap's what I really want, and probably need.

The reasons why are unimportant but probably familiar to most people. I stayed up later than I planned, then my sleep was interrupted during the night by Moo, a crazy morning filled with unplanned things that delayed what I'd hoped to have accomplished, which meant I was now working at full speed to "catch up" and I felt exhausted. Not to mention, this morning's caffeine had worn off hours ago.

You may be thinking, "You work from home, just stop what you're doing and take a nap." Well, it sounds like good advice except I'd feel guilty doing that, especially during a workday. A nap just seems selfish. Plus, I'm not sure how I'd explain it to Black, although she doesn't sleep normal hours, and does take power naps.

Keep Reading ...Show less
Design by Sawyer Pennington, Underlying photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

red headred head assets.rebelmouse.io

Why does everything have to be such a struggle? Even a simple phone call to a doctor’s office. I don’t know whether it’s because I’m tired or getting older, but I just don’t have the time or the patience for this.

Black's HeadBlack assets.rebelmouse.io

Me, neither.

red headred head assets.rebelmouse.io

Do you mean this conversation? Or are you agreeing with me? Which, although nice, doesn’t make sense, as you don’t even know what happened.
Keep Reading ...Show less

If you asked each of us our favorite childhood book, Red would draw a blank, while Black would quickly reply, “The Little Engine That Could,” and then start repeating, “I think I can, I think I can, I think I can.” But if you asked about our memory of the first book we read on our own, we might not remember the title, but it would be a Dr. Seuss book. And even though we both love to read, that would probably be the last time we agreed on what to read (see Red's original post below). Red prefers to read for enjoyment and escape (she’ll read online articles as “brain breaks” during the workday), while Black always seems to be “researching” something … and recently sent Red an article listing the benefits of reading because, in addition to our love of reading, we both love lists!

Keep Reading ...Show less