Even when I was little--really little--I would look down at the footprints I made in the mud or dirt and think about them. I would wonder how many people throughout history had stepped in the exact same spot and left an exact same print as I had. It couldn’t be a footprint in a slightly different direction. It had to be exactly the same, and it had to be the same size, too, come to think of it.
Then I would retrace my steps back to the beginning and try to walk in the exact same spots I had just walked so I could deepen the exact same prints. All along while carefully walking, I would pretend that I was a person from the past. Sometimes I would think of a Native American from perhaps a couple of hundred years ago. Sometimes I would go farther back than that. Sometimes I would go all the way back to prehistory. Then I would imagine the person from another time walking the same path as me and leaving the same footprints. And I wondered if they thought of the future, and if so, were they thinking of me?
|A well-traveled river.|
I told my mother about it. Poor woman. I don’t think she quite knew what to do with me. I asked her if she did the same thing, if she thought about people from other ages walking in the identical places she now walked and if she wondered what they might be thinking and doing. She said no, and I thought that was an extremely odd response. When I asked her why not, she just shook her head.
But I still think about the people, even now when I am not so young anymore. I still wonder who walked the paths I now walk. I still wonder what their exact thoughts might have been when they stepped on the exact spot I presently occupy. I still wonder if they might have thought of me. I still wonder what would happen if I were somehow able to find an untouched footprint from hundreds of years ago and step on to it full force.
When I look at this river, I can’t help but wonder how many rafts and canoes and small boats have gone by in the exact same places. It’s no different than the footprints, really. Sometimes I see them all out there at once, and oddly enough, it’s not crowded at all. They’re coming and going and dressed very strangely. I stand on the bridge and watch them all, trying to catch their eye. Occasionally, one will do an odd tilt of the head and look up to where I am standing. The bridge does not exist in their time, but they are looking right at me, and I know that they know I’m here. Just as I know they’re there.