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Archive for April 8th, 2009

Setting a Path

9908-172-finding-answersFor ten years I walked up the road through the woods to my old studio.  It was a logging road from the two or so times the forest had been harvested over several decades and ran along a run-off creek that dries up most summers.  There were two visible tracks from the tires of vehicles that had climbed the gentle rise over the years and as the years passed, another track formed between them.

This was the path I walked several times a day, up and down the hill.  At first I thought nothing of it.  It was simply a path.  But over the years I began to notice things about it. I could walk the path in the absolute black of night with no problem, each step falling in a natural way directly to this path.   If I tried to walk off the path it seemed unnatural and required a degree of attention to my stride so I wouldn’t stumble.

I came to realize that my trail was the path of least resistance.  It was the path that carried me with the least effort.  Each step fell naturally in place, accounting for the slightest change in the topography and had the same effect as water flowing down a creek.

I began to notice that the trails formed by deer and other animals were  the same.  When I followed them, they would move slightly in one direction or the other, just when your stride wanted to shift naturally and simply from gravity.  There was the same sense of rightness I talk about in my painting.  They never veer drastically, always in smooth, subtle curves.  They would always  run along the grade as though were the elevation lines on a topographical map.  Following them required little effort or thought.

Going off the path was a different matter.  It took thought, concentration and effort.  There were new obstacles to overcome.  Branches that crossed the path, blocking your view ahead and slapped the side of your head.  Downed trees that had to be climbed over.  Roots that rose through the dirt and tripped you.  It was real work.

I guess herein lies the point.  If I wanted to go where others had went before me, I could follow their trail. This would be the simple and logical way.  But if I wanted to go to a different place, one that was fresher and less visited, I might have to set my own path.  It wouldn’t be easy.  It would require more effort, more thought and the risk of not finding my way.  But if I forged ahead and found my way, there would be a new, hard won  discovery and the sense of accomplishment that comes with it.

I could blather on a little more but I think my little lesson learned from the land (nice alliteration, eh?) has come to an end.  We all choose our paths.  Some take the easier trail.  Some blaze new trails.  And some go into the woods and never come out…

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