The other day I made a small footpath to the snowmobile trail. I'm so grateful I did: today, by comparison, I struck out from the street toward another section of snowmobile trail, across open field. It was exhausting, each footstep an effort as it plunged through layers of snow, compacted to different degrees by wind and cold. I made very slow, lurching progress until at last I reached the snowmobile trail--and then I positively floated along.
(I did see these lovely, light foot- and wingprints as I staggered along, though)( two photos )
This got me thinking of our phrase "off the beaten track," and about how hard it is to go off the beaten track. Beaten tracks make things easier. Beaten tracks go where people want to go--that's how beaten tracks get made. But beaten tracks are restrictive, too. ... We know all this. We talk about taking the road less traveled, or striking out on our own--this being metaphor for any number of things in life--and although we acknowledge it can be hard, I think sometimes we fail to acknowledge that it can be killingly
hard. Actually-literally, if we're talking about hiking, and devastatingly, if not lethally, when we're talking metaphorically. At least in life one's given the chance to recover.
I'm not saying one shouldn't strike out, off the beaten track--not at all. Not only do I like doing it on trails and things, but I've been thinking about it in terms of bigger things--changing my habits, changing how I think or what I do in situations. That's hard though--habits and patterns of thought are pretty firmly entrenched tracks. So how can I change them? So then I go back to the analogy.
If you're going off the beaten track and trekking across a field of snow, it helps if you have snowshoes--that makes it a lot easier. So: equip yourself. If you're in a snowmobile (snowmobiles make beaten tracks, but they can also go off them--funny!) and you're going off the beaten track (like these teen snowmobilers,
who went missing near the hilariously named Devil's Den Road and Black Cat Road--thanks to Liz Hand for that story!) survival training definitely helps.
In other words, just flailing off on your own is going to predispose you to failure more than practice, planning, etc.
Sometimes I tell myself stories when I'm out walking, but sometimes I muse on things, and today I was musing, and behold: the above were my musings.
Here's a pretty scene to drive musings from my, and your, mind: