Freshly fallen snow seems to shout an invitation to get out and see what wildlife tracks might be found. But you can’t search for tracks without your own footsteps giving evidence that a two-legged animal has been this way. When I look back at the trail I leave in the snow, I sometimes think of a song popular some years back about leaving a lot of happy tracks everywhere we go. The song is talking about more than the physical trail we leave behind as we walk through life but also all those people we touch on the journey with our actions and our words.
“A bad word whispered will echo a hundred miles.” ~Chinese Proverb
Words are an audible track that can show up behind us for years and years, especially if the spoken words, or written words too, were unkind or thoughtless. Sometimes
the dark smudge of such a footprint can be unintended, words misunderstood.
At times we might not realize we’re stepping on someone’s feelings with a heavy tread.
I’ve got a few words echoing around in my head like that. Some of them that might not have even meant to be bad or at least personal, but for this or that reason the words stabbed me in a tender spot and got stuck in my thoughts. A casual acquaintance once made what seemed an offhand remark about my Shaker books. It wasn’t even his own words, but he repeated something he’d heard someone else say. I’ve been writing a long time, so my skin is pretty thick about that sort of thing. I know everybody isn’t going to like my every written word. Yet, for some reason what this man said burrowed down under my skin and has made a continual worry spot for me as it pokes at my writer confidence. I don’t think he intended that to happen, but I’m not absolutely sure of it.
Then there is the time when it was my words that injured. A beautiful young family joined our church – a bright spot for our little country church. The mother was an enthusiastic worker. I thought I was cheering her on in every way, but then she looked at me one day and said I was against everything she wanted to do. I was astounded and crushed that my words had been discouraging to her when I had intended support and encouragement. I begged her forgiveness, but it was too late. My words, however unintentional they had been, had left the wrong tracks in her mind. That’s been years ago, but it still makes me sad to think about it. And it makes me try to be much more aware of not only what I’m saying but what the other person is hearing. Often it is not the same thing.
Now with the internet and so many words flying across the social media networks, there is even more chance that wrong words will wound or words might be misunderstood. Those word trails don’t disappear with the next breath either. They linger in the internet world. So I try to consider my words before I open my mouth or hit send. I want to leave happy tracks.
“Some people come into our lives and quickly go. Some stay for a while and leave footprints on our hearts. And we are never, ever the same.” ~Unknown
Hope every footprint on your heart sparkles with happiness.