Tracking – Written into our DNA

The acuity of sense of smell in a dog is orders of magnitude greater than that of the human. A canine is able to track over great distances even after long periods of time have elapsed, at least in favorable conditions. However, even when armed with that incredible sniffer a dog can only track in the moment, moving from track to track, scent to scent. Humans however can observe a series of tracks, and weave those tracks into a larger context – a story – employing complex and multi-sensory observations to shortcut or leap-frog a trail, thus potentially saving massive amounts of time. Furthermore, a human can question his-or-herself about the implications of the passage of time on a track, or the effect of weather or that a track has possibly been intentionally altered to confound the tracker. These are exceptional tools that have helped us to endure for the entirely of our evolution – the ability to think in the abstract, the brilliance of realizing cause and effect, the passage of time. And with these tools we were then able to ponder and prescribe meaning to our endeavors, our trials, our ideas and our lives.

Tracking is still in our blood. It’s what humans do; we look for patterns. Doctors track their patients, teachers track their students, meteorologists track the weather, stock traders, parents, students, law enforcement, journalists, businesses, designers, engineers, sports fans – all track. And we should be continually tracking ourselves. And when we are in the groove tracking what we enjoy, or that which serves us, we are tied directly to our ancestral heritage. It makes us feel fully alive and connected to something deep within.

Finally – not that everyone has the opportunity to do this, but if you can, and if you’re having a bad day, and your mind feels like it’s in a blender, get outside on a crisp winter morning a day or two after a fresh snow and track a fox as far as you can. This will be an adventure and a learning experience. And you will surely come home with a story.