The Tracks We Leave

Let Yours Make the World a Better Place


March 21, 2023
/ Author: Rick

My work is hard, but at least often-enough rewarding. I work at leaving good tracks as I walk with the people who have hired me. 

And every path is different. Because every person is different. The charges against them and the circumstances surrounding their cases are different.

I have a few stories I carry as reminders to guide me. They’re variations on the Starfish Story.

Like a lot of the meaningful stories that guide my life, the Starfish Story, and — obviously — this Lakota Proverb, did not originate with me, but I model my life, and my law practice, on them as ideals.

I meditate on them when I am not sure which direction to take in helping those who entrust themselves to me with leaving their own tracks.

A Story About the Tracks I Leave

One of my favorite stories about the tracks we leave is about the guy who “confronted” me in a convenience store near where I live one day. 

As I stood at the counter, he roared, ”RICK HOROWITZ!!!!” 

I turned, but did not recognize the young construction worker. The young man was muscled. He was lean. He was clearly strong. And still wearing his toolbelt, as I recall. (In case he sees this, I hope I’m remembering right. I was a little startled.) 

I turned to face him. 

He said, “You don’t recognize me, do you?” 

“No. I’m sorry. Do I know you?” 

Then he pointed at me, and roared again, looking at the other shocked customers, and cashier. “THIS MAN SAVED MY LIFE!!!” 

It turns out that when he was a juvenile, I represented him in a delinquency case. It was my habit, then, to try to work with “my” kids, and teach them goal-setting based on Brian Tracy’s book, Goals: How to Get Everything You Want, Faster Than You Ever Thought Possible. (I always wished Tracy wrote a version specifically for kids!)

This kid wanted to grow up to own a construction company. We worked on what he needed to do to get there. I used to guide the kids, teaching them to write things out. Each session tracked a little farther: after setting some realistic goals (and this started with instruction on realistic vs unrealistic goals), our next session would break out one of the goals, and we would talk about the steps needed to achieve it. Then they would work on the other goal plans themselves. 

When I saw him that day, he was working his construction plan. He didn’t own his own company yet, but I have no doubt that one day he will. (And, as I write this, maybe he does by now.) 

Make Yourself Known by the Tracks You Leave

Other traditions vary the Lakota Proverb, and state that “G-d visits the sins of the fathers unto the third and fourth generations.” That comes from a few places in the Tanakh (as Jews call it), or the Old Testament (as even pseudo-christians like we have in America might call it, if they read it).

Those passages in the Tanakh all say G-d punishes those sins to the third and fourth generations. In other words, that G-d punishes those who did not even do the wrong themselves. And I don’t believe that. I read it to mean that those who lay down bad tracks create a bad environment. Those who follow after them are mislead. They don’t know the right way to raise their own children. Following bad tracks, their treatment of others is wrong. Many end up needing my help, or the help of my colleagues.

So I like the Lakota Proverb, as a better interpretation. 

We lay down tracks. How we are affects how and who those around us come along, and become. 

Therefore, I’m wanting to step in to a place where the tracks laid by those around someone maybe have led them astray. And I want to show them how to lay down new tracks. To find their right way. And to prevent those following them — their children — from getting lost.

Because we all will be known, if we are known at all, by the tracks we leave. And even if we are not ourselves known forever, the impact of our tracks will still be felt long after we are gone.

At least unto the third and fourth generations.

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2 Comments

  1. Well said Rick. We should all leave positive tracks. The world would be better for it.

    1. Rick Horowitz says:

      Thanks, Tim! I appreciate that you read and leave comments. It helps me to know my posts are being read.

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