What tracks do you want to leave behind?

There’s something in the human soul that craves the gentle fall of snow and the subsequent blanketing of everything ugly.
With the world turned white, piles of rubbish take on artistic form, barren patches of earth are stacked with beauty, and snow-laden bushes spark the imagination.
But vastly more important, for a brief moment in time, the raw beauty of the planet lies unspoiled by human footsteps.
Even as a child growing up in the constant path of lake-effect snow from Lake Ontario, I loved the snow and I loved being snowbound. I loved making “angels in the snow” and eating “sugar on snow.”
Sugar on snow is best made in the maple syrup season. The sweet syrup is boiled to the hard-crack stage, then drizzled on a pan of clean snow in slender threads, where it becomes the best taffy you ever tasted in the whole world.
Some people moved away from Lewis County, N.Y. to get away from 350 inches of snow a year. But not me! I moved away to go to college and just never happened to go back. In the half-century since, however, my soul has never stopped grieving my loss of the deep snows.
Fortunately, last week, the U.S. prairie compensated slightly when we had our third serious snowfall of the season.
Gently, the tiny flakes drifted to earth–hour after hour–until eventually the outstretched arms of the naked trees outside my window were stacked high with fluffy whiteness. Whiteness that would stay put until much later when the wind whipped up its prairie strength.
It’s hard to put the experience of snow into words but people have been trying for centuries. Long ago, the psalmist in the Holy Bible spoke of being “whiter than snow.” And the ancient Iliad spoke of “words like winter snowflakes.”
We all grew up reciting the nursery rhyme about Mary’s little lamb with fleece as “white as snow.” And naturalist Henry David Thoreau renamed the snowflakes with their endless varieties of beauty as “snow-stars.”
New-Englander Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote of “the whited air” and storms that “fill up the farmer’s lane from wall to wall.” But more significantly, he wrote about the experience of being “Around the radiant fireplace enclosed/In a tumultuous privacy of storm.”
That’s exactly what a snowstorm can do for you. It can give you the brief moments of privacy and purity we all crave in life. And when you once again come out to face the world, you can walk on the clean, pure snow where no one else has ever walked.
There is an old Dakota Indian proverb that says, “We will be known by the tracks we leave behind.” It’s something to think about. For no one should be guilty of living life unintentionally. Our years of life are a wonderful gift and today is the perfect day to reassess your use of that gift.
You don’t need to wait for a snowstorm to give you permission to take time out for reflection. So why not set aside some time right now to think about your life purpose.
If you were, in fact, given a clean new blanket of snow to walk on in life, exactly what kind of tracks would you like to leave? What would you like most to accomplish? How do you want to be remembered?
And what is the first step you could take today to move in that direction?

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