When I was growing up in the fifties, there were a lot of sayings that had interesting meanings. A “cool cat” was someone who was a really hip person. To “burn rubber” meant to take off, usually in a car or hot rod, really, really fast. “Cool it” meant to take it easy, and if you were “frosted” it meant that you were really angry.
Another term, “making tracks” often meant an individual was on their way to a particular destination, quite likely in a hurry. Recently, I got another hit on what making tracks might mean.
I’m engaged with an organization that spends a significant amount of time showing folks how to get connected to the land. Sometimes this looks like learning primitive skills like friction fire making or shelter building. Other times it might look like hiking or snowshoeing. We have also put folks out on the land for several days at a time in a solo setting, allowing them to slow down and listen to that inner voice in a sacred spot in nature.
Recently we held a multi generational event and offered an array of activities during the day. One of those activities was what we call the “blue loop”. We took a piece of blue flagging material, long enough to go around our entire group as we stepped into a tight circle. We cut the flagging and tied the two loose ends together, thus forming the loop. Then we explained the invitation: at any time during the day, when anyone felt so inspired, to take the sharpie and write a word or short phrase on the loop. At the end of the day, we would cut the loop into pieces with one word or phrase on each piece, and each person would pick “their” word.
Early on, I got a pretty strong hit on the phrase “making tracks”, but it was clear to me that it had a different meaning than the one I had learned a half century ago. I explained to the group as I shared my word and wrote it on the loop.
What might it mean, I mused, if as we traveled this journey called life, that we left imprints, or tracks, so significant and easy to see that others could not help but notice? And what would it mean if those tracks led to accomplishments that made a difference in people’s lives? Nelson Mandela made tracks when he was released from prison after nearly three decades and chose to exhibit acceptance rather than hate towards those who had imprisoned him. The Dalai Llama makes tracks when he speaks repeatedly on finding one’s happiness from within and by being of service. Rachel Carson made tracks by pointing out that the birds were dying and that it was likely we humans who were poisoning our feathered friends. Ghandi made tracks when he lived a life of non violent resistance to injustice.
As I journey this path called life, it might just behoove me to occasionally pause, look around at the tracks I have made and to consider if I am indeed leaving the trail that I wish to leave. I am blessed with others who have shown the way to make a difference. We have all been given “original instructions”. If I take a look around from time to time to see what sign is being left on the trail for and by me, I might well discover whether my tracks are something to be followed. I hope you will make tracks.