March 9, 2020

While Coming and Going, Leave No Trace



the waterbirds,

don’t leave a trace, 

don’t follow a path."

- Dogen Zenji

Back in the day when I did a lot of backpacking in the wilderness, I practiced what is called "leave no trace" camping ethics.

Basically that meant "take nothing but pictures, and leave nothing but footprints." 

It also meant, "respect the experience of other campers".

My hiking partners and I put a lot of effort into our no impact excursions. We wanted to leave the wild places we visited in better shape than we found them.

Often that meant cleaning fire rings and campsites of garbage left behind by others. We packed out a lot of disrespectful hikers's mistakes.

The lessons I learned camping I have applied to the rest of my life.

Now when I come and I go I try to leave no trace. 

And the most liberating way to hike through life is on the path of no path, when one is free to wander unobstructed by things or rigid thinking.

Wouldn't it be beneficial if we could leave the Earth in better shape than when we came in to it? 

That is my goal.

No trace living can do that.


  1. Anonymous3/09/2020

    Beautiful haiku, Gregg, and it certainly gives one pause for thought: can we say the same?

    I listened to a youtube talk (Rob Greenfield on Money, Health Insurance, Age and Death) discussing exactly this - leaving no trace when he leaves the earth. I was so impressed with this talk, particularly the way he has divested from investments and the banks to the point of now holding no credit or debit cards, bank accounts etc....He lives with very few possessions and has pulled his money out of banks because of the damage they do. We possibly cannot all live as he does but can certainly take some courage and inspiration from his choices.


    1. Now is a good time to divest from the big banks. A local credit union would be better. Banks are wrecking balls.

      To live without leaving a trace is a major accomplishment.

      We will look Rob up. He sounds like our kind of person.

  2. Anonymous3/10/2020

    Beautifully put, it's the opposite of fame. Daoists have idea of cloud wandering which stops people going down the same old paths.Nature creates paths through its flux.
    Agree on banks and thanks madaleine for the talk will watch later.


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