My footprints. That’s what I’m thinking about during this Earth Day.


Photo by Anita

The news mentioned a report on our carbon footprint and what we can do to reduce our negative impact on the environment. This got me thinking about how I tread through life, what footprint(s) I’m leaving, what impact I’m having.

The concept of “treading lightly” is often used when describing human interaction with the environment. We should all be aware of the amount of water we use, food and energy we waste and consume.

A couple years ago I met a campus minister who takes two minute showers, using only cold water. When asked about it he explained that while he was on a service trip, the village in which he was working, did not have the energy to heat the water, nor did they have enough of it for people to take showers longer than two minutes. Because of that experience, he has continued the practice to show solidarity, and reduce his consumption, to reduce his footprint.

I’ve realized that my footprint, not only on the environment but on the lives of others, is something that needs constant attention and calibration.

I had a high school teacher that read a little bit from the book, “How to Be a Gentleman” each class. In my understanding, a gentleman makes the lives of those around him easier. They are thoughtful and aware of the intricacies of interpersonal communication and work on creating a respectful and stress-free environment.

For a long time, I was too concerned about what people thought about me and my impact was minimal due to my hesitant and reserved nature. I had confidence, but a kind of confidence that was easily dimmed by negative criticism, a break-up or other obstacle.

I also spent a number of years on the opposite end of the spectrum, time when I only really cared about what I thought about me. Drinking didn’t help during this time because it only exaggerated my false ego and made my footprint even heavier. It also became an escape and scapegoat.

Now, for almost seven years, on an almost daily basis, I have checked-in with myself to measure the impact I’ve had on this world. Whether it’s been by going to AA or church, talking to God while I’m out for a run or having a talk with someone I trust.

There is no hiding. Not anymore.

My steps are my own.

Sometimes they are too light, too tentative, too self-righteous, too loud, or too proud.

I want them to be like a pioneer who has the privilege to tread on a path covered with the last snow of the season. Treasuring the current beauty while living in hopeful anticipation of what is to come.



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