It seems that footprints in the snow are often used as a metaphor for individualism.
It describes those eerie and magical moments when you find yourself alone on a moonscape, forging ahead into unexplored territory. When everything’s quiet except the pattering of snow and the whispering of wind. When the world has been transformed into a sea of semi-coherent shapes. When it seems as though you are the last living being on earth, leaving only footprints as a mark of your existence.
But I see footprints in the snow as a metaphor for community.
Walking through a snow storm last night and through the aftermath this morning, I was very thankful for other people’s footprints.
The places where no one had shoveled, so the only path was the malformed imprints left from pedestrians shuffling past. The curb cuts where the snow was so high the first brave explorer must have plunged in knee deep, leaving a foot-sized clearing of compressed snow for the rest of us to follow.
I don’t know the faces of those who came before me, but I literally follow in their footsteps as we collectively carve a path.
When I’m wearing good boots and feeling energetic, I make a point to step on the piles of snow still blocking the way.
Through this, I hope, those who follow can benefit from my footprints, just as I benefited from the footprints before me.