The Human Condition: Footsteps

Do you remember the last time you missed someone? Not just a fleeting memory but a strong yearning, so strong it’s palpable.

Maybe it’s a loved one now passed, an old flame, a faraway friend, kids who have left home or even a wise mentor who influenced change in your life.

The people who have shared your footsteps. Because where your footsteps go as does your heart. Right?

I imagine, on another plane our footsteps, and those that walk beside ours are tangible. They carry the conversations, the jokes, the sentiments and the love step by step along whatever track or trail it is that we choose.

So when we walk those steps a second, a third, an infinite time that imprint is reignited.

Perhaps self-care should have been higher on the agenda of late however with yet another work trip in my diary I diligently jumped on the plane and traveled to a remote destination far away from the people I love the most with one foot touching their existence, and the other in my work identity.

But the internal chaos created as I missed my family juxtaposed that work exterior with the internal turmoil of a mum missing her kids. Knowing that they had joined me on this trip just a few weeks ago and that their footprints still burned into the sand, the soil and the streets invoking a sense of longing for them, my family that was close to unbearable.

I thought of places we frequented, of experiences we shared and the longing was palpable. I imagined retracing those footsteps with a screaming sense of grief and suddenly I felt so, so alone.

My usual desensitised me would refer to that sentiment as sooky, soft and bloody boring but there is something in this fortnight that makes the people I love so much more important. I’ve just had five weeks of holidays damn it, my head is in a different place. I realised that perhaps, just maybe connecting with this sentimental version of me isn’t such a bad thing.

I brooded in my hotel room wondering how I could possibly take myself to the special places we’d been together. I thought of my children swimming, lying in the sand, of us sitting together watching the sun set. They were everywhere.

So I did the only thing I could.

I breathed deeply and I stepped right into it.

I took that longing with both hands and I swung it like a cloak around my shoulders. I retraced those beautiful footsteps pressing my own feet beside the footprints my loved ones had left behind.

I remembered as I stepped that I was walking along a trail of fun and relaxation, this was not a sad story. Suddenly my senses awoke and I felt the salty air in my lungs and the warm water caressing my legs.

And I was OK.

Actually, I underestimate. I wasn’t only OK, I was triumphant.

“we are born alone, we die alone. Only through our love and friendship can we create the illusion for the moment that we’re not alone” Orson Wells

And if those footsteps carry that illusion why not retrace them with, or without the footsteps shared in that moment.

Originally published on Medium 19 February 2019.

Humans are a weird bunch. I think a lot about how and why I/we act, why we say the things we do, why we run or stand still. The Human Condition Project is not a particularly original idea however it does explore my individual take on the way that humans function (and don’t).  Through this project I will attempt to expose the little nuances that make us human and not to fix but to understand those things that make our hearts beat. #thehumancondition

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