Ralph Higgins

Ralph Higgins
color pencil sketch by Gayle Higgins

Quotes I Like

"If you do not take an interest in the affairs of your government, then you are doomed to live under the rule of fools."

– Plato


Sunday, January 15, 2012

Footprints in the Sand

When I was in the army, a bunch of my buddies and I decided to play a trick on a guy in our platoon. He was a very heavy sleeper, so we carefully lifted his bunk and carried it out of the barracks, down the steps and far out into the desert. When we were quite a distance from the barracks, we gently placed the bunk behind a sand dune.  When the poor soldier opened his eyes in the morning, he could see nothing but sand and sage brush.

He was panicked.  He had no idea where he was. He couldn’t see civilization and he couldn’t see the barracks; all he could see was a world of sand dunes. When his shock subsided and he began to explore, he was finally able to go over a hill and see the barracks off in the distance. When he finally got back he was full of questions.

The bewildered soldier began to ask the guys in our platoon, “What happened?  How did I get out there? Who put me out in the desert and why?” All logical questions.

This guy found his way home by following our footprints in the sand. He looked for evidence and clues. Logic played a role, but he wasn’t content to simply accept his plight, play in the sand and go on as though nothing mattered; in a sense, accepting his circumstances without question.

Every time I look down from a plane I see insects with headlights following each other on rivers of highway. I always wonder how many of them give a thought to how they got there, who put them there, and the big question… “What’s it all about, Alfie?”

There’s a popular expression I keep hearing; “It is what it is.”  That reminds me of Bertrand Russell’s statement that the universe exists and that’s all there is to it. But at the same time I can hear the haunting voice of Peggy Lee singing that old song, “Is That All There Is?” I think Russell’s conclusion is a cop out, but at least Peggy’s song implies curiosity.

I’m always suspicious of people who think they have all the answers, but I respect those who search, whether or not I agree with their conclusions.  What I don’t understand are those who lack the curiosity to read, study, think, explore or even “contemplate” the deeper questions of life.

Ultimately, the existential quandary may result in a “leap of faith,” a la Kierkegaard, but it doesn’t have to be a completely blind leap. There may be clues.

Obviously we will never have all the answers. And maybe our “answers” are wrong, but, as C. S. Lewis implied, some will be closer to the truth than others. So maybe we should at least think beyond our daily routine and look for footprints in the sand.


  1. I also have considered the options facing all of us as we approach what they called the "golden years". Golden, my butt! Rotating pain, pills and memory challenges to me are not Golden.
    Recently two friends have passed on. Both had positive attitudes as they approached the end. One seemed to have little concern about the possibility of life beyond while the other was totally confident that he like the thief on the Cross would be safe in the arms of his Savior.
    I prefer the second view which provides us with HOPE. This hope is based on the historical fact of the resurrection of Christ. If this did not happen, our faith is in vain.

  2. Well said.

    So you Canadians get old too...?

  3. Only problem is Ralph, I would be following my own footprints. Not good.

  4. We all walk in circles at times, Bob.

  5. Ralph, your thought process never ceases to amaze me and delight me. It raises many good questions!

    I really liked the thoughts of Claire-Inga.

    Are Rosy & Bob one in the same?

  6. Thanks, Ed. You motivate me with your encouragement.

    Claire is a buddy of mine in Canada. Don't let his name throw you. His wife is Inga. We've been friends for 50 years. I spent a lot of time in Canada back in the '60s.

    Rosy is short for Rosenthal. He's been a friend since grammar school and a character in my novel. He is also featured as "Big, Bad Bob" in my book, "The Huckleberry Days of the '50s".