Footsteps and Footfalls

She carefully made her way down the well worn path. I wondered if she had considered all the feet that had walked down this path before her or if it was just another path she walked on the tour she gave on a regular basis.

I couldn’t help but wonder about all those feet that had walked down here before me. All the people those feet belonged to had a life, a life that happened before they came down this path. And the path, of course, would lead them to a different future, one they couldn’t possible have dreamed of happening.

She stopped, waiting for us to catch up, underneath a large tree. The tree, she said, was a meeting place. Historically it would have been a place to gather and share.

When we had all gathered around her, she carried on with the story of those people. Of how once they were gathered this last time under the tree, they were placed on a boat to begin a different journey. One which would take them further away from home for good. A one-way journey is how she described it.

They wouldn’t all survive the journey, and they wouldn’t stay gathered up once they got to the new place. Instead they would be distributed as needed with no thought for their own feelings and attachments. And while there would be great trees where they were going, they wouldn’t be places to gather and share in the same way.

And their feet would be traveling down different paths. Possibly hard paths which were beyond imagination and yet were reality.

When I asked her, later on, did she ever consider the history and the people who had walked that path before her, she shook her head. She said it was impossible to imagine, impossible to understand, but she would tell their stories as best she could. But she did not feel any sense of it, she was, after all, just telling a story. A true story of thousands of people over the course of time, but to her, it was still a story because distance and time will always turn a moment into a story so it’s easy to manage.