I’ve taken up a new hobby. Tracking. I’m not very good at it. I hurt my elbow this fall and it took a long time to heal. So I couldn’t sight in my bow or do the archery hunting thing. So I have started practicing tracking. I try to follow a trail and see if I can understand the story that has happened. I try to visualize what was motivating the trail.
Tracking means following the trail that something makes. You are able to see the footprints, impressions, markings, rubbings, droppings, path. It lets you understand the story - even if you weren’t there when it happened. Deep footprints mean a big animal. Does the trail go to water? Does the trail go to a bed? Are the steps far apart and erratic? Was it running? Scared? Is the trail old or new? What is the story?
My dad was famous (infamous?) for taking some of the foundational building blocks of life and condensing them into a saying that sticks. On his tombstone are the words “at the end of the day, look back and be proud of where you’ve been”. I heard this saying all the time growing up. It has proven very true.
It made me think about the trail that I leave in life. When others “track” me, what story will I tell them. When they follow me, where will they end up?
You always leave a trail. Sometimes we try to hide the trail. We cover our tracks. We try to misdirect or lead others down the wrong road so they can’t see us, see what we are doing, or find where we went. But the trail is still there.
Trails aren’t always on the ground. One of the things I am learning as I practice tracking is that trails are also made in the mind. Motives, goals and plans begin to be revealed in the nature of the trail itself. The tracks aren’t just footsteps, they are prints that show weariness, determination, fear, worry, confidence, hesitation, and more.
A trail always goes somewhere. I have an app on my phone that tracks my daily activity and travel. It’s interesting to check it and see my trail. All the places, activities and moments in my day. I start reflecting on questions like “what was I doing then?” and “was that really that important?”. I see where I became stressed, hectic, angry, and sinful. I am able to see when I try to cover the tracks. But the trail always goes somewhere.
Where does your trail take you? At the end of the day, look back and be proud of where you were.