Follow the Leader

Remember the corny story about the “Footprints in the Sand”, which ended with the tear-jerking line, “Why there is only one set of footprints? That is where I was carrying you.”

Today I looked back where I had driven over some wet grass with my car. In the early morming dew, where my car was driving in a straight line, two tracks where visible. Where I turned, the two tracks split up into four. Funny thing is, with four tracks, the furthest I could drive was in a tight circle. In a straight line, with only two tracks, I could travel literally millions of kilometers.

On a nature walk in the Tsitsikamma wilderness area, the guide explained to us how the present road had come about. Apparently, elephants migrated annually between the Knysna forests and the Humansdorp area. For thousands of years they used precisely the same paths through the dense riverine forests and carved paths carefully down the gorge and through a drift in the river and then up the other side.

When African tribes arrived many, many years later, there were ready-made paths which they used to move quickly and safely through the area. These paths were obviously single-track, and when European Settlers arrived, they were converted into double track by the wheels of their ox wagons.

These double-track dirt roads became tar, and finally double lane highways. The point is, the surveyors of many of our roads, here and abroad, were probably animals.


Human knowledge and wisdom is built on the tracks of those who came before. We can expand these tracks and improve on them, but when we choose a different, unique path we have to turn off of the comfortable road and blaze a trail of our own. The transition period is where we see four tracks in the dew. We cling onto the old knowledge for a short period, as we change course, and then straighten the wheel and settle into the new.

Quotation of the Day;

Life is pleasant. Death is peaceful. It’s the transition that’s troublesome.

Isaac Asimov (1920 – 1992)


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