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Going Off Trail

Electing to escape the surge of traffic, both literal and theoretical, can be revolutionary. But revolutionary does not have to equate with broader impact; the internal revolution is just as important, if not more, than the far-reaching.



“It’s no fun if you don’t go off the trail.” Sometimes your children can stun you with little pearls of wisdom they drop, without knowing the deeper meaning attributable to their statements. At the time, we were in the woods of a park and rather like Robert Frost, we found ourselves where two roads diverged. And instantly Frost’s famous poem came into my mind as we were deciding which path to take. My daughter’s response was the first line of this story. True to form, it echoed the literal situation we found ourselves in.


But as we walked and walked and took in the sights and sounds of nature, I kept thinking back to her statement, following the threads that spun it from the literal to the inspirational.   


It’s no fun if you don’t go off the trail.


What is the pull, the allure, of being off trail? It’s the unknown, the ability to blaze your own path, to appreciate the here and now instead of being tossed in the current of the status quo. It’s the quiet moments, the getting lost and finding yourself. It’s the opening up of your being and allowing the experience to shape you forever more. It’s the bandaging of the voices and events that brought you to this moment, and finding solace that only nature can provide.


Electing to escape the surge of traffic, both literal and theoretical, can be revolutionary. But revolutionary does not have to equate with broader impact; the internal revolution is just as important, if not more, than the far-reaching.


When you take the first step into uncharted territory, you must drop all self-conceived notions of purpose. You do not know what you will find, and you will not find what you should if your goal is preset. Let your mind be clear and allow your senses to take over.


Nature has known time and time again the scourge of disaster. And yet it salvages itself through resilience. New trees take root, landscapes change, it is the very definition of reincarnation. Your history may be bleak, but walking amidst nature is evidence that while you may never go back, you can always be transformed.


When the fork in the road comes, you will have to make a decision and pick one. But that does not mean you can only ever choose one. Plenty of times we must double back and try a different way. Forward progress my friends is the cumulative effect.


Did we go off trail that day? Absolutely, and more than once or twice. What did we find? Scenery that made you stop…and be still. We found places devoid of others. We found ruins and the unexpected. We found freshwater clams.


And fun.


We went off trail and found fun.




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