Take only pictures

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If you hike a bit you’re bound to see signs about leaving the land as you found it.

“Take only pictures, leave only footprints.”

The origins of this saying aren’t as clear to me as its meaning. Do no harm.

This simple idea might be good advice for more than just hikers—it can easily apply to our sometimes misguided desire to enhance, improve, and modify.

What would happen if we ran all our urges to make things better through the lens of do no harm? Or, put another way, asking ourselves if we’re fixing a problem or adding sugar to cover bitterness.

When I think of expensive cables with control boxes to modify performance or additive/subtractive circuits like tone controls I have to ask myself a basic question. Is this an enhancement or a means of preserving what’s natural?

When we add a Power Plant to our system we’re fixing a basic problem with our home’s AC. That’s an act designed to do less harm.

When my cousin Don added a spring reverb to his car audio system that was an enhancement that veered away from our ideal.

The difference between doing no harm and making things better is a fine one indeed.

It’s worth asking the question.