On Leaving a Trail

I have a tendency to clean up after myself — and not just in the house. I want my profiles on writing platforms to be clean. I want posts sorted and curated, and each one nicely formatted too. One of my big fears is dying without having my digital affairs in order.

Most of all, however, I don’t want to repeat myself. That feels like clutter. Like cheating. I want each of my posts to be part of a painting, a giant painting that’ll make perfect sense at the end. That’s impossible, of course — especially when you write a daily blog.

Shipping art daily isn’t akin to painting — even when it’s painting. It’s wandering. You’re creating a path, and sometimes, when you navigate unknown terrain, you’ll end up where you began. You’ll walk back and forth between two points, trying to understand their connection. On occasion, you’ll even trudge in circles. Of course you’ll repeat yourself!

Every artist remixes the art that came before. Some pieces must be remixed again and again by one person until they achieve their final state — for now. Some lessons must be learned twice, others are worth being reminded of. And all that repetition? All the messiness and lack of polish? Everything is part of the trail — not just the one you’re carving, but also the one you’re leaving behind.

A meteor cannot care about the glowing tail it leaves behind, but if it could, don’t you think it’d rather hurtle along in darkness? “Don’t mind me, just passing through, nothing to see here!” But often, there is something to see, and when we catch a glimpse of glowing light in the night sky, we rarely fail to pause and wonder.

Your trail might not be made of blog posts or melted rock, but I assure you you’re leaving one — and that’s exactly as it should be. Trails are a way of connecting. They allow others to follow in our footsteps. Perhaps not always literally, but they do open doors to curiosity, reflection, and the inspiration for, well, more remixes! More trail-making!

If, 100 years from now, someone falls down a rabbit hole of your essays, only to find that rabbit hole ends in an unfinished piece, that piece might be the one you’ll have worried the most over — but it might also be the one they’ll pick to be their favorite.

Don’t try to clean up your life in real-time. Let a glowing trail form in your wake, and keep flying relentlessly ahead. It’s okay to leave some things behind — and it’s also okay if those things don’t fit neatly into one box.