I am writing this in sections because I have just rescued two beagles from the evil clutches of a creature called a Twillets. Sadly she will repossess them later but for now they can run, skip, play, eat, drink and then crap all over the garden.
They like a bit of attention and they like to run in and out of the house dragging with them bits of wood, empty crisp packets and other rubbish. They also manage to leave a few footprints as they go about their business. It'll all hoover up later.
Anyway, it reminded me of a little verse I came across the other day, an except from A Psalm of Life by Henry W Longfellow:
Lives of great men all remind us
We can make our lives sublime,
And, departing, leave behind us
Footprints on the sands of time
I often get asked to read that sickly sweet poem about walking on the beach with god and how he carries you when it gets rough, (load of bollocks), but I liked this verse because it talks about the things we leave behind - not real footprints, but the inspiration and the example we can leave for those who follow.
Some of us will have been lucky enough to have had parents who showed us the way to live and although they may not have achieved greatness, they still leave an example that is worth following...
hold on, I have a visitor....
ok, Miss Lottie had gone to play again, where was I?
oh yes, examples, sand...
I was watching the Human Planet and the remarkable journey that the women of the Tubu tribe make - having committed to memory the location of the only waterhole for miles around they struggle in the heat for three days to locate it and re stock their water supply before heading off to market - and these are women! Mrs B couldn't find her way to Manchester with a Sat Nav, let alone on a camel.
In the desert the footprints in the sand are obliterated within seconds - but the respect and the trust that one generation has for the previous is concrete - they believe that the information they are given and example they are shown is something they can and should trust implicitly.
The Longfellow verse was given to me by a family who had nothing but respect and admiration for the recently deceased father - a teacher by profession and a teacher in a broader sense too - he loathed religion and dogma and embraced the potential of humanity as something to believe in and nurture. His grandsons have literally followed in his footsteps, that is the depth of his motivation and inspiration.
They followed his lead - and yet last night I spent time with a family who were leading lives that were the opposite of what their father had showed them.
His style was to be dismissive and belittling, sometimes downright cruel but his son said to me that his fathers example had still shown him how to be a good father - he just knew he had to do everything that his father could not - love, support, inspire.
I think I may have lost my thread somewhere along the way but I hope in this rambling you can see what I am getting at - that we all leave footsteps in the sands of time - for good or bad - and it is for those who follow to decide whether they should be a guide or a warning.
Dogs barking - hang on...
It is such a beautiful bright evening that I think I should take the dogs for a walk, we shall go down on the park and I will be careful where I tread because sticky brown footsteps are the worst footsteps of all.
Alright dogs...I'm coming.