Northern Expressions

Northern Expression: Most people leave no traces.

Today’s Northern Expression comes from Ivan Illich in his H2O and the Waters of Forgetfulness. Illich was a fascinating Croatian/Austrian philosopher that had very interesting perspectives on many everyday things. In today’s quote, he talks about how we leave no traces in our fast-paced lives:
Most people do not dwell in the place where they spend their days and leave no traces in the place where they spend their nights.

“Most people do not dwell in the place where they spend their days and leave no traces in the place where they spend their nights. They spend their days next to a telephone in an office and their nights garaged next to their cars.” – Ivan Illich

He’s onto something, right? If you work full-time, where do you actually spend most of your time? And how do you interact with your “stuff”? It’s something we don’t think enough about.

I like the idea of where you leave your traces. As a work-at-home mom, I definitely leave my traces on my home, but they’re not always the best traces.

Where do you leave your traces? Are they the traces you want to leave?

Happy Friday and last day of March! See you next month!

Love, Maggie


Why I Want to Move to the U.K.


March 2017 Plan Update


  1. I’ve actually been asking myself what traces I’m leaving lately, though not exactly in those terms. More like: what impact do I have on the lives of people I care about? Is it worthwhile and significant? Would they truly feel the lack if I were gone?

    I don’t know the answer to that. Maybe it’s something we don’t or won’t ever know. I don’t think my mom died knowing how much she meant to me, she was taken by dementia before the heart failure and thought I hated her, a shadow of my perceived failed teen self haunting her, I think. I don’t think my grandma, thousands of miles away all my life, knew how much she impacted my life just by living the life she did, setting an example of true grit that is unparalleled by most in today’s world.

    I’d like to know if I am that person for anyone but maybe it’s not given to us to know. And maybe we have to do a better job of communicating it to those people in our lives while we can.

    Until April…!

  2. This is something I think about a lot, actually… When I die, I want the world to be a slightly better place than when I was born. Maybe that’s why I started up a blog and chose a “passion” profession over a moneymaking one?

    • MaggieBanks

      Oh I definitely am a proponent of choosing passion projects over careers… which is why I keep trying to get Mr. T to quit his job. 🙂

  3. I don’t necessarily aspire to “change the world”-level traces (not against it, just don’t think it’s a realistic goal for most people), but I do like the idea of the positive impact we can each have on our communities. Perhaps counter to Illich’s point, I think you can have that kind of impact even with an unfulfilling job, as long as there’s time for other things. I’m reminded of a Brandi Carlile line I love: “Do I make myself a blessing to everyone I meet?” That’s a solid aspiration to keep for me.

    • MaggieBanks

      I don’t have big change the world aspirations either… but we can each bring light into our own corners of the world and I agree it’s great to strive to be the good to everyone we meet.

  4. Being a good person is about the best I can do. Like Matt asked “Do I make myself a blessing to everyone I meet?” Granted, I can do better.

    How you rear your children has a huge impact and I’m sure you’re leaving many good traces with them.

  5. Chris @ Keep Thrifty

    Great reminder Maggie! We’ve been trying to shift our focus in the last 2 years to being much more intentional about where we spend our time and money. Hopefully we’re leaving the right traces with our kids, friends, church, and online communities we’re involved in!

    • MaggieBanks

      Yes. We definitely leave digital traces as well (how about an entire blog!?) – it’s all about where we spend our time and efforts.

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