Footsteps in the Dunes, Ming Sha Shan, Mountains of Singing Sand, Dunhaung, Gansu, China

Going Forward

I carry my past
In a backpack
So I am never far
From the moments
Which defined me

Love, loss
Attainment, failure
Lessons, places, people
Glories and gaffes and grace

Everything that ever happened
To get me here
Where I’m standing
In this moment now
On the path
To who I’ll be

Now and again
I’ve stopped along the way
To rummage through the contents
Of this backpack of moments past
There’s almost nothing
I can’t find in there

Sometimes, I find strength
Sometimes distraction
Sometimes purpose
Sometimes despair
Sometimes hope
Sometimes emptiness

As I dug around today
In this backpack of retrospection
I realized the one thing
I will never find
Is a map of the road ahead

I put it all back in
The triumphs and tragedies
The failures and foundations
Returned to the pack
Closed up and secured
I put it down beside the road

Standing here in the now
I look forward
On a road unclear
And do the only thing I can do
Venture one step forward
And then another…
And another…

Leaving the past where it belongs
Behind me

I don’t count how many steps
Before I stop, turn around
The backpack is not there
I’ve already walked so far
Too far for my backward glance to see

A tremble runs up my spine
The past had been with me
For all those many years
Had brought me so far
Had gotten me…

Not here
But way back there

I steel myself

Just take one step forward
And the past begins again
From here


I have no backpack
To carry it

I step
I hop
I skip
I leap

I find my way
Defining myself anew
Every day

Footsteps in the Dunes
Ming Sha Shan
(The Mountains of Singing Sands)
Gansu Province, China