When we’re at the beach, names are written in the sand, initials encircled by hearts are etched into tree bark, and quotes written in sharpie clutter schoolyard benches and bathroom stalls.
We all want to feel infinite, and leaving a little bit of ourselves at the places we’ve been gives us a satisfying sense that some things – some memories and feelings – can last forever.
But why bother making your mark of something that could or will likely end?
On a hike recently I came across a tree covered in hearts and initials from couples and friends who had been there before me. The jagged lines carved into the bark had been rounded over by time and filled in with moss. I realized then that I was looking at a time capsule; one filled with emotion, first loves, first losses and soul mates. Whether or not the relationships etched into the branches were still going strong, here was a tangible reminder of the happiness that they each at one time held. And that is something that not even time can fade.
When something is meaningful to you, it only makes sense to want to leave a part of yourself along with it.
I know that my initials are scrawled on a beach lookout tower not far from my hometown, on a cabin from two summers of camp and in a stairwell in Elgin Hall. Each of those places and the people I met during my times there hold a special place in my heart.
Just like anything in life though, nothing is permanent. Words written in sand will be blown away, and initials written in marker will fade. Eventually we all have to leave the people and places that we hold dearest in order to move on to the next collection of memories waiting around the corner for us.
It’s a saddening thought, but one that I’ve come to realize can be truly freeing once you allow yourself permission to appreciate what once was while carrying the good parts along with you on your journey.
So go ahead and embark on your journey, leaving many marks along the way. After all, adventure awaits.