My parents are making a path to nowhere.
I spent the weekend helping them. The weather was gray and overcast. We got covered in wood ticks and mud. There was some urgency because the leaves were coming out on the small aspen and soon the terrain would be obscured by the thick undergrowth. We slogged through the bramble and patiently tied ribbons every few feet onto trees and small bushes. We would need every one of these bright orange ribbons to find the best way to travel through the dense woods.
The point was not to find the most direct route. We were not trying to cut corners or avoid hills. My parents wanted to be able to enjoy the lovely, wooded acres they own but rarely get to see. They wanted to create a path that they could cross-country ski in the winter and walk in the summer. Once marked, the plan was to get a man with a brush hog out to clear along the ribbon-marked path so this piece of land could be traversed and enjoyed all year round.
Most paths simply arise out of necessity. There is a need to get from point A to point B and a path emerges to meet the need. The aim is to be efficient and direct and not waste time.
My parents’ path is not like this.
My parents are creating a deliberate path. Their path is all about long walks in the evening listening to the birds. It is for skiing down the hills, where they will have fun going down the slopes, but not go so fast that they end up in a pile at the bottom. Their path is about getting a good view of the oldest Norway pines without cutting down any of the nice maples.
Rather than finding the shortest distance between two points, my parents are making a path that deliberately meanders. They are creating a path that will be beautiful, enjoyable and satisfying for years to come.
My parents are great role models.
I am at a place in my life where I am thinking a lot about new paths. I am fortunate to have the company of Daniel, a man who is creating his own new path through the woods. We enjoy each other’s company in large part because we were both given the unexpected opportunity to recreate our lives in middle age. We are spending a considerable amount of time thinking about and deciding what is really worth our time and energy at this stage of our life.
Only when we were young was it essential to hurry. Goals and aspirations look different now that we are in the middle of our lives. As the time grows shorter, the necessity of getting somewhere fast diminishes and the need to savor the journey increases. Now, when we look at our life goals and the path we wish to take, an essential part of that planning involves making sure there is a good view along the way, that the slopes are exciting but not too steep, that the route we choose will be fun to travel every day that we are on it.
I ended up using an entire roll of bright orange tape and my parents’ path looked pretty impressive. Green bushes covered in tiny leaves were decorated with a trail of bright ribbons fading off into the woods. It was an invitation to step deeper into the woods, a tangible testament to the belief that it is the journey, not the destination, that matters most.
Till next time,