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Day 10 - Footprint

Starting out in life, we are poked and prodded and dressed up in strange clothing. One almost-universal gesture is to create a plater mold of a baby’s feet. This leaves a near permanent fossil of something that was once small, beautiful, and almost perfect—the footprint of a baby.

As we grow our footprints become deeper, like footprints in the sand. We as humans look at our footprints and watch as the sea washes them away like we were never really here at all. Just a brief fleeting reminder where we once stood is quickly washed away by an awesome power we have really yet to understand and our own arrogance will not let us respect as we should.

Growing up as Americans and getting older, we become more useful, able to give back, work, play, serve, worship, but most everything we touch has a new fossil on it, our carbon footprint.

footprint.png

Image source: MIT


The above image shows a scale of how we over-use, over-do, over-want, over-need, under-estimate, and ignore what has become a growing issue for some and a nuisance for others. Whether we believe it or not it doesn’t make it less true that everything we touch is now marred with our mark, our DNA, our footprint.

As a global community, we have learned and are learning the importance of our digital footprint. In the modern society, the digital footprint defines who you are. We need to ensure it’s accurately painting the right picture about you. You need to protect your footprint as well from those that would try to steal a piece of you, sometimes marring your portrait and leaving your footprint broken or nonexistent. Much like the ocean can wash away our footprints in the sand, hackers and morally deficient individuals will try to erase you from existence in order to have what you have worked hard to create. We have tools, we have knowledge, and we only lack the proper wisdom at time to use these tools to protect ourselves.  It never easiest to make the right choice, but it’s better to make the hard right choice than the easy wrong.

Think about your footprints, who you touch, where you go, how you live. What can we do better, what should we do right? Just because we can do something doesn’t mean we should. Even if no one else is looking, think about if this action, this thought, this moment was cast in plaster like the perfection of the infant foot, how would it would compare, and if this is the fossil you want others to remember you by...

45 Comments
Level 11

This is an interesting read jeremymayfield​. Our footprints are our legacies, we leave our footprints behind by making a difference. We get to determine what our footprints look like when we set our minds on changing things for the better.

Level 11

This is deep. Made me think back to when I was young and my grandpa was a scout leader. When we go camping we would always leave it better then we found it. Leave only footprints behind. As you say he left a great fossil of himself on this world and is remembered as a great man. Thanks for this post, made me really start thinking about who I am and more things I could do.

The definition of a consumer is one who consumes... and post WWII generations have emphasized the disposable method to consumption... Diapers, milk bottles, shaving razors, and many others. And that has come with a price.

Our digital footprint is very different. for Millennials their entire life is being tracked via their digital footprint. Birth records, medical records, school grades, social media... it is all being tracked. It reminds me of the Black Mirror episode, "Be Right Back", where a deceased person's likeness is restored completely through their entire digital footprint. There are those of us who tread lightly and try to leave a small digital footprint and there are those of us who are all in baby! but there's no denying that we are all leaving one now. future generations will have better methods to study our society by these footprints. Boy I hope they aren't too disappointed.

MVP
MVP

Highly thought provoking Jeremy.

I read this about 20 minutes after watching the incredible BBC Blue Planet II programme, which was highlighting the quantity of plastics in our oceans and the effect this is having on marine life. Deeply saddening to see something for which the majority of the plastic are what to us are literally through away items; packaging, micro beads from skin care products and such like. That is not the footprint I would want to be leaving behind me every day. Why do I need to buy my fruit and veg in plastic bags, to put in another plastic bag, which is why I and everyone else has the capability to reject such products and unnecessary plastic waste.

I like to think of how individuals want to "make a lasting impression", or "leave a mark for all to see."  I've heard it called "the thumbnail syndrome", where even when someone can't contribute something significant, they still want to leave a mark--and hence they may surreptitiously press a thumbnail into a piece of finished wood and hence leave a tiny crescent mark that they were there.

Better still are the unintentional marks left by ancestors long forgotten, as when fossilized footsteps in a muddy plain are uncovered by nature, and people find them and scientists analyze them and report they are many thousands of years old.

Whether left on the moon, or by humans, or by dinosaurs,  They remain a silent record of an event and of a life, perhaps long gone.  And they cause us to become thoughtful.

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And when fossilized human footprints are found side-by-side with dinosaur footprints, what stories can be imagined?  Which was hunting the other?  Could there be a possibility one was a pet, or these were friends?  Or were they separated in time by hours or weeks?

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Your story reminded me of my father, one Minnesota's first three State Parks Naturalists.  And the instructions we all must understand as we pass, not only through a park, but through the world:

"Let no one say unto your shame:

'This place was beautiful until you came.'

Take only pictures, leave only foot prints."

Level 14

Really makes you think about how our actions and inactions affect others, and how other's footprints have affected us.

Level 14

jeremymayfield​ well said and written.

I spend my weekend summers in Maine. Every step I take across the sandy beach I frequent reminds me that all I do in the physical world is a temporary mark in that world. Monday-Friday I am painfully aware of the digital footprint I leave in the digital world. Unlike the sandy beach it does not wash away but rather is an indelible mark in that world. My actions are permanent and have an effect. That effect can be good and bad and future generations will know more about me than I do about my great-great grandparents. Scary time we live in.

Level 12

A footprint  is made on everything we have touched, built, and taught someone in which makes an impression on someone else.

Level 10

Footprints are the markers we make with every step we take. Sometimes ground is easily gained and sometimes you have to struggle through it, and at the time you don't really think about it so much; but you can look back and so easily see exactly where everything happened.

There are so many ways in which one can leave their footprint or mark. Sociologists and psychiatrists will talk about the generational cycle of violence. That if we experience personal violence as a child you will most likely act it out as adult and pass it on to the next generation. Breaking the cycle is difficult. I for one was extremely fortunate not to experience this. Not to say we were not punished as children, we were. But there was a direct link between the offense and the punishment in both time and scale. So it made sense. Unfortunately, I know the impact violence can have when it comes at you sideways or out of the blue, often in fits of rage. The lasting impact on the psyche of the children then adults can be subtle or very obvious, but they are there. If there isn't a conscious effort to change, then that gets passed on to the next generation. The footprint of violence can be large in both space and time.

It makes me wonder then is the same true of kindness and compassion. Are they as catching? Does a random act of kindness, a gentleness of spirit, extend out through space and time. We hear about little things like pay it forward, we people do something nice for another, no strings attached except the expectations that sometime later, you do a kind act for someone else. You might see it on the news or read a story now and then about it, but does it last? What kind of impact does it have on those touched by compassion? What size footprint does love leave?

I try to act with compassion for everyone I meet. It is not easy, especially when others are hostile or resistant. I hope that my acts of kindness towards others on a daily basis, expand out from me, even in small ways. Bringing a smile to someones face, providing comfort it times of struggle, or calm/protection in a storm. I used to think I would have a grand footprint on the world, by some huge act. Now my wish is to leave lots of little footprints in the hopes that it represents a larger pattern of love, kindness, and compassion.

Our belief in reincarnation is one example of our concern for the future. If you think that you will be reborn, you are likely to say to yourself, I have to preserve such and such because my future reincarnation will be able to continue with these things. Even though there is a chance you may be reborn as a creature, perhaps even on a different planet, the idea of reincarnation gives you reason to have direct concern about this planet and future generations.

Excerpt from My Tibet by H.H. the Fourteenth Dalai lama: Thames and Hudson Ltd., London, 1990 (p 79-80).

So, as I always say if you think in a deeper way if you are going to be selfish, then you should be wisely selfish, not narrow mindedly selfish. From that viewpoint, the key thing is the sense of Universal Responsibility, that is the real source of strength, the real source of happiness.

From that perspective, if in our generation we exploit every available thing: trees, water, mineral resources or anything, without bothering about the next generation, about the future, that's our guilt, isn't it? So if we have a genuine sense of universal responsibility, as the central motivation and principle, then from that direction our relations with the environment will be well balanced. Similarly with every aspect of relationships, our relations with our neighbors, our family neighbors, or country neighbors, will be balanced from that direction.

...

So when you say environment, or preservation of environment, it is related with many things. Ultimately the decision must come from the human heart, isn't that right? So I think the key point is genuine sense of universal responsibility which is based on love, compassion and clear awareness.

Transcript of an address on February 4, 1992, at New Delhi, India by the Fourteenth Dalai lama.

Level 10

It is always good to leave a good footprint/impression on people.

MVP
MVP

it could be the image you posted but it reminds me of the practice of taking imprints of a child's footprint when they are young. It's a little something to remind you of how much they've grown. As an adult, the relationships you forge with other people and the imprint you leave on them will be how you are remembered.

Level 9

As humans we leave a foot print were ever we go, and I don't just mean a foot print in the dirt.

Level 9

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I really enjoyed thinking about this word and how it might impact everything and everyone around me.   So many great comments.   I still can't get over how much inspiration and creativity there has been so far this month and we're just starting to scratch the surface.  I think the Thwack footprint is one that has left its mark on all of us.   We all share and work together and I know my career and life is richer for it.  

Foot print

To an archaeologist it is proof you were there.

To a hunter it is the path you are on.

To our children it is a path to follow

Level 9

Footprint - What we leave behind.  Something I never think about but has an impact on everything I touch.  Even to the point of how I interact with others.

MVP
MVP

The first thing I think of when I hear footprint is the poem Footprints.  Regardless of your religious beliefs, the poem I feel is great.  If can be changed slightly to go from a religious context to one of a parent / child.

In relation to the article, I hope that my footprint on this earth is what I leave with my kids.  As a father, I hope for them to have it better than I did and learn from both my successes and my mistakes.

Level 10

Unfortunately when handling support the only footprints we generally deal with, are the ones on our backs from people walking all over us, and the ones left behind after getting kicked in the rear. To parphrase Rodney, "We get no respect".

MVP
MVP

A footprint can be from "stepping on someone" or it can be from walking along side of them. Without considering the needs of others we often tread on others when we think we are walking along side of them.

What are your footprints saying? Are people happy to hear you coming, or happy to see you go? Do people look fondly upon the prints you leave behind? Footprints are those marks or impressions that we leave. Consider your steps, tread lightly with respect and care.

Level 12

When I think about footprint, a lasting impression comes to mind.

Level 21

Our footprint is what is left of us when we are no longer here and just like the water time will slowly erode it.

Level 9

The footprint that we leave behind is such a deep topic. In my life I try to keep this idea in my head as I make decisions.

Level 9

As a  scout leader we practice leave no trace. That means leaving the outdoors better than you find it. Same thing as life. Leaving your footprints is like leaving your mark. make it lasting and forever positive.

I like the consciousness of the carbon footprint impact. We can all do better, we can all do more. One of the most basic things to do is to make your own meals/cook your own meals from scratch. A lot of waste goes into carbon footprint via way of cardboard/paper/plastic packaging from the things we buy, which requires that we then *waste more* just to attempt to recycle the waste we've already created. I'd advise people to consider a zero waste challenge to really raise some awareness of how big an impact this is.  Going Zero Waste: 30 Day Zero Waste Challenge . (Random site chosen, anything involving zero waste is good).

On the other side of the footprint as rschroeder​ points out, I always try to help people gain perspective and ask them continually what do they *want* to do in life. Not a measure of "success" - success being the wrong term to define your life by, but more like "What footprint do you want to leave on society"? For most of us, the answer certainly could be nothing - and that's not a bad thing, either.  I'm also reminded of buddhist temples where people pray so much in the exact same spot over time that they literally create footprints in wood/stone. See: Buddhist monk makes footprints in wood through 20 years of prayer | Metro News

Level 9

Our IT team talks about the IT footprint.  Meaning where we can make an impact versus our limitations, but always having our foot in every door.

Level 20

I agree for some reason footprint made me think of those people that live in those tiny micro-houses.  They don't leave much of a literal footprint!

Level 12

Bad impressions don't go away easily.

Level 14

I have to admit that this was a very interesting read.  The picture you posted really put things into perspective.  We just don't realize how good we have it in the U.S.

Level 9

Thinking about my "footprint" makes me nervous.  There are many footprints that concern me, digital, environmental, and personal most of all.  It points out that I need to reevaluate my life and try to look at it from a perspective outside of myself, which is very difficult. 

Level 15

wow. that's one heck of an impressive post jeremymayfield

I really like the reminder of how permanent our footprints are. our current digital footprints are going to be seen as fossils in future archeological "digs" through the sedimentary layers of the internet.

heck, even this thread has created a permanent footprint... #meta

Level 10

Footprints in the sand. I wish I was at a beach oasis today.

Level 10

Turkish proverb: Before you love, learn to run through the snow leaving no footprint.

Level 14

As a diver I was taught to take nothing but pictures and leave nothing behind.  I then got to watch so many inconsiderate idiots stealing bits of shipwreck and coral which probably just ended up in the corner of a garage.  Why not just leave it for someone else to enjoy.

Thanks zackm​ I like the idea of Digital Archeological Digs.   That seems to be going on already.   We search about when we research people for positions, or references, or Doctors, or even business partners.  Its amazing what we can already find.   too bad none of us had a redo button, i am sure there would be many things done and said differently. 

Level 10

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Level 17

As many others have already noted, the idea of "footprint" is bound up with how much space one has used, or is using. As a Head Geek, I think about that a lot.

Am I filling the room? By that I don't just mean "did I pick a topic that enticed and invited people to attend" but also, am I engaging the attendees in a way that allows my message to reach each person, to make them feel seen and heard, to communicate that I appreciate their choice to be with me in this moment? Am I speaking in a way that allows me to be heard? Can visuals (slides, props, or just my spastic hand-waving) be seen? Am I using language that is inclusive?

Am I sucking all the air out of the room? Am I rolling over my co-presentors and audience? Am I insisting on pushing my narrative even when others are bringing up other valid ideas, points, or topics? Am I inserting myself into discussions that I wasn't part of, for the sole purpose of reminding folks that I'm there?

Am I creating work that I will be proud of later? Do I take the extra time to avoid churning out trite ideas and hot takes, and instead create something insightful. Do I spend time building long-form content that can still be divided up to highlight individual thoughts, but which allows a consistent and coherent through-line to be understood by the careful reader?

Am I blazing trails and opening doors? Do I use my platform to raise up and signal boost the ideas of others? Do I look for opportunities to mentor in big and small ways? Do I invite, encourage, and showcase the talents of others?

In the end, a footprint is something that is used to trace our activity through both space and time. When someone looks for me later, I hope that ever increasing number of footprints around my own that joined me on my journey is evidence that I didn't take up too much space along the way.

Level 12

I think most everyone hit the points I would have. Everything front your literal footprint to your environmental footprint.

Footprints always makes me think of the idiom "Before you judge a man, walk a mile in his shoes" . I've always liked this as seeing things from the other side is something that we could always do more of. 

However lets not forget the second part that is often forgotten. "As when you do judge him, you'll be a mile away and have his shoes"

Level 12

Humans and dinosaurs are separated by tens of millions of years. (At least until someone invents a practical time machine.)

Given the arrangement, it is likely those two creatures walked side by side. A predator would more likely have followed right along, overlapping and crossing the track of the prey. Also, those are walking prints, not running - the heel isn't deep.

And note how the large prints match up with the smaller. The larger would most likely be on a larger creature with most likely a longer stride. So the larger was most likely staying with the smaller, step-for-step, and so that is most likely a parent-child set.

Level 12

I just like this

Level 12

I want to leave my footprints for the world to know its mine and whose i am. Footprints can be impressionable thoughts or marking to impact a lot of people.

Level 10

footprint.jfif

Level 9

always leave a footprint wherever and you will never be forgotten.

About the Author
IT Management, worked in Healthcare and Manufacturing. Industrial Engineer by degree but IT Professional by trade.