When I lived in the village and enjoyed bush life, my friends and I roamed the forest, the cocoa farms, the swamps, and the pathways.
Years of experience in the bush gave us a rare sense of detection. One look on the bare ground and we could tell that an animal passed here last night, a squirrel entered this shrub, a crab was definitely in that hole, or a snake wriggled past here.
How did we know? Simple—the animals left their footprints where they passed. Following their trail, scent, behaviour, actions and hairs or feathers, we knew how to catch them.
No one goes through life without leaving footprints. We leave footprints in the family into which we are born, at school where we are tutored, at church where we worship, at our workplaces where we earn income, and in the neighbourhood where we live.
Wherever we go and whatever we do and say, we leave our footprints —for good or for bad; for progress or retrogression, and those footprints identify us.
Influence is a kind of footprint. I still remember Teacher Boama at the Buamadumase Primary School. I remember his diligence at teaching, the seriousness with which he went about inspecting our classwork, and his attitude to time. He left giant footprints in the school as a good teacher, and everybody remembers a good teacher.
Whether our influence is positive or negative, it affects people — psychologically, spiritually, emotionally, or physically.
Aroma or scent — that is certainly a kind of footprint. The perfume some people wear will always remind you of them. The Apostle Paul reveals that “we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ . . .” (2 Corinthians 2:15). You leave a footprint wherever you go, and that footprint can either be a pleasing aroma or an unpleasant odour.
Some of those animals that left footprints we detected in the field also left odours. Our hunting dogs picked up their scent and pursued them. Thus, the animals’ footprints betrayed them!
I am reminded of a beetle that had a horrible body; it was so strong that we avoided it. The beetle’s unbearable scent drove us away. What is our odour? One that invites people or one that drives them away?
Three people went to seek audience with a CEO of a company. When the CEO entered and the visitors greeted him, he responded, “I am not greeting you!” That was an odour — what do you think?
What is your footprint?
What do we want to be remembered for? Our honest answer to this question constitutes our footprints. Do these footprints endear us to people or separate us from them?
Some people walk fast, others walk slowly; some heavily, others lightly. Depending on the depth of your footprint made on the path, you are either heavily built or lightly structured.
Similarly, the way we are will produce the kind of footprints we make in life. Are we kind-hearted? Wicked? Helpful? Happy? Bitter? Forgiving? Short-tempered?
Frustrated? Godly? Ungodly? Lazy? Persistent? Open-minded? Dubious?
These short adjectives carry long stories behind them, and they show by the way we live and talk. One radio talk show host told a former panel member that he was no longer welcome on his show. Why? Because the man had left unpleasant footprints elsewhere that misrepresented the host.
A friend told me how his fiancée secretly accessed his phone calls and text messages from a mobile phone company to find out who he really was behind the scenes. That illegal action led to the break of their relationship.
In this age of digital communication, we leave a trail of footprints behind whenever we go online. This stream of data, known as digital footprint, is very frightening. Beware what you do and say and watch online because that is part of your life’s footprints.
There is now a software being advertised, their manufacturers claiming it is able to cover all trails left behind when people work online. Those who watch pornography or send messages and photos in bad taste say they are most thankful for such a software application!
But whether on social media or by everyday human interactions, we leave behind footprints that cannot be wiped out by any software application.