Divots

One of my golfing pals responded to my commentary on Locard’s Exchange Principle with one word. “Divots.” Meaning – divots on the golf course bear silent witness to the golf shots of times past. Every fairway and green is littered with “traces” of those that pass.  Divots.  Impact marks.  Broken tees.  Balls in the water.  Beer bottles.  Snickers wrappers.  My 5 iron wrapped around a tree. . . . . Which reminds me of my post of November 9, 2014, titled “Mulligans.”      

When I’m with my buds on the golf course and we tee off on the first hole, a “Mulligan” is frequently offered for an errant tee shot. It often happens on the first tee. On the drive. We call it a “breakfast ball.” It’s a do-over.  Even if we’re playing for a few coins it’s “hit another – nobody saw that first one.”  During the round – a Mulligan may also be given (except on the green). A do-over. . . . .

Wouldn’t it be nice if in life we had do-overs? Mulligans? For errant words or deeds.  Or behavior.  We do in a way though the granting of a do-over lies in the province of the recipient – or arbiter – of the errant words or deeds. In a way, it might be called “forgiveness.”  I am confident that we all have things we’d like to do over.  And we’re all grateful for the granting of forgiveness (or lack of ill consequence).  I’m sorry . . . . It’s okay.  No worries.  I know I’ve said some hurtful (and dumb) things and done some even dumber ones that I’d like to call back.  But in the words of the great poet Omar Khayyam:

The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ,
Moves on: nor all thy Piety nor Wit
Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line,
Nor all thy Tears wash out a Word of it.”

Our futures are for the most part in our own hands.  The “moving finger” business is probably a good reason to think before we act — or speak.  And knowing of our own fallibility – and frailty – better reason to be generous with the granting of Mulligans to others.  It’s okay.  No worries.   

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Locard’s Exchange Principle

A crime. No leads. Police and investigators pick through the scene. Ask questions. Examine the scene again.  Look.  Study.  Listen.  Sniff.  Search. And solve. Often thanks to Dr. Edmond Locard (1877-1966) – a pioneer in forensic science.  Dr. Locard (known as the French Sherlock Holmes) developed a basic principle of forensics that “every contact leaves a trace.”  Writer Paul Kirk in 1953 described Locard’s Exchange Principle as: “Wherever he steps [or] whatever he touches, whatever he leaves, will serve as a silent witness against him. . . . .”  In other words, the occasion of every crime – leaves behind traces of the criminal.  And thus a means for solving the case. . . . .

Locard’s Exchange Principle applies to life in general.  As we wander through our daily lives, wherever we walk, stand, sit or set foot, we leave behind a part of us.  Whoever we talk to, cross paths with or acknowledge, we leave a trace.   Of our presence.  The trace can be positive or negative.  A sharing of concern, love or sympathy.  Or it might be anger, distraction or inattention.  But as we move on this journey, whether we like it or not, there is a forensic trail.  That bears witness.   The traces we leave behind as we shuffle from one day to the next may not mean much to us.  But they could mean everything to someone else.   

Mother Teresa once said “Kind words can be short and easy to speak.  But their echoes are truly endless.”  Actions leave echoes too.  And attitudes.  What traces are you leaving behind?