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I wonder, now and then, who has tread on the ground I walk on. Surely this thought comes to mind often in famous places where people whom we remember did things that stir the imagination and puts us in their shoes, if only for a little while. The history buff in me lingers in places where famous moments happened. It’s my way of understanding their moment a little better, even as my moment in that place is so very different. I’m a visitor in that place in that moment, they defined the place in theirs. Walden, Culloden, Kehlsteinhaus, Liverpool’s Cavern, Saratoga… each stirred up ghosts as I walked in footsteps. Some we honor, some we simply try to understand.

There’s that word again: understand. We can never put ourselves in the place of the characters who brought us here, but we can learn from them. History rhymes, after all. When we learn from those who came before us we might change the script, or gain insight into our next move. We’re all just re-writing history, we’re all playing the same chords. We make of it what we will.

Last week I visited Gljúfrabúi, partly inspired by watching a YouTube video of someone walking into the gorge to experience the hidden waterfall. I re-watched that video, just to see it again from the perspective of someone who has now been there. For all the thousands of people who have likely walked there, the experience of that particular person walking in my footsteps when I’d actually walked in theirs felt circularly surreal for me. It reminded me that each of us is walking in the footsteps of others while also creating footsteps for those who will follow us. Doesn’t it make you wonder, how will we define our place?

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