I wrote this short story after a stroll on the beach in Jeffrey's Bay, South Africa. The words just seemed to be waiting for me to write them down.
Walking on the beach I see the footsteps forming behind my path. I look back and see that the line of steps is not in a straight line, even though I thought I was walking a direct route. The pathway curves gently around the slight impressions of the sand mounds. I was not even aware that I had been following the contours of the earth.
I walk now with a sense of purpose, placing each foot gently on the earth. Where the sand is hard and unyielding the steps are barely visible and where the sand is soft, I see my mark pressed into the ground. I understand that the world can be like the sand. Soft and yielding at times, allowing me to leave an impression that is well formed and noticeable. At other times, the earth is hard and unrelenting. I have still travelled that way yet the mark I leave is known only to me, so slight is it.
The wind blows towards me and lifts my hair and my spirits, bringing in the smell of the ocean. The breath of life. I breathe it in through my nostrils, recharging my energy and my soul. The wind dances on the sand and lifts the edges from the footprints, smoothing the indentations and sometimes covering them up entirely. Still, I know that I walked that way.
All the while around me the air is changing; the wind the light, and the scenery. It might be the same place it was moments before, but now it looks different. I am aware of the ever-changing, moving and shifting of the atmosphere. As I walk, I adjust my jacket to shield me from the cooling air. I adjust me. The scene will always change. How can I possibly think that it will stay the same? I am not the same. I make the changes in me that allow me to stay in the changing scene. I move myself across the path, following the curves and avoiding the beach debris. Before, I never considered how amazing this ability within me actually is. Now I am aware and grateful. So much goes on within me that I am unconscious to. What an amazing, resilient being I am!
At times I look down and find treasures along the path. Tiny, beautifully formed shells in vivid colours. Fragile and perfect, until an idle step shatters them. Some things will not survive on our walk through life. We are bound to fracture something along the way. Nature forgives by supplying abundance. I give thanks for the abundance. I forgive generously and earnestly.
I look up and see the expanse of sky. Even the horizons are not the end. There is more. So much more. I could feel small and unseen in the vastness, but I feel held and loved. I am part of this wondrous creation and loved as much as the tiniest shell. I see the purpose and the plan for even the smallest of creatures. Each life interlocking in exquisite precision. Without one, the cycle cannot sustain itself. I long to have all of mankind see this picture; this connection.
I turn to walk back, my footprints still showing along some of the journey. I try to walk inside my step. My haltering steps are labored I cannot place my feet in the same mark without walking backwards and looking over my shoulder. This is ridiculous and makes me laugh. I stumble and fall. In life why would I consider trying to retrace my old steps? They do not fit me anymore. I cannot walk them with the same sense of trust and ease. I have to concentrate so much on each step in order to “get it right”, that I cannot enjoy the journey. The unrealistic expectation could leave me disappointed and unfulfilled, if this was a serious walk-for-life.
Luckily for me, I can choose to even dance some of the way. I step and leap, swirl and sway, leaving a myriad of different prints to show the movement of flow and ease. My spirits are lifted and I feel as light as the seagulls that swoop overhead. I have moved a great distance and haven’t even been aware of labor My dancing feet have freed me from the stilted, restricted, concentrated, self-imposed laboring walk. I choose to dance more.