What if we did not always take the “easiest” path??

As I was driving back to the office after a site visit I stopped a couple times to over look some beautiful sites.  One was a bog like site, then a lake, and then I stopped and looked at a small stream flowing.  Well actually I stopped at the small stream site because I am on a steering committee for a watershed and was checking out the culvert and erosion of the site.  But regardless it was an inspiring stop.  Sometimes I can not explain why certain things pop into my head at any given moment but as I was looking down the stream, I started to think about water and how it always takes the path of least resistance.  Which is part is why water ways do not flow a straight line.  Instead, it all starts with the water taking the easiest path.  Then I continued on driving “Waldo” (that’s what I named my vehicle) down the wet, muddy, gravel road.  Again, as my car is swaying back and forth following the tracks of the previous vehicle I was thinking again, even my car without having a mind is taking the path of least resistance.  My wheels are automatically following the already made tracks; meanwhile I look like a crazy driver all over this small gravel road trying to stay away from the huge pot holes and trees the run along side it.

Subconsciously, everything takes the path that was already paved for us, water, wildlife, my car, and we as humans can admit to taking the already paved paths.  But why do we? What would happen if we didn’t? If we challenged ourselves to at least once a day to take the path of most resistance or the more difficult path, would we accomplish more? If we challenged ourselves to this…at the end of the day would we feel more accomplished and satisfied, would it make us “more happy”?  I know we cannot challenge wildlife, water, or our cars to this task but we can challenge ourselves.  We can challenge ourselves to not be afraid of what we do not know- but rather face it head on and find that less beaten path to make ourselves more knowledgeable and hopefully more successful.

Now, I know this is a forestry blog–so here I will relate it back in a couple ways.  After I had this mind shaking thought, I was thinking about the daily things I do…and how when I am out on a site visit with a landowner we are usually following a trail through their forest, but often in order to see more and get more of an idea of what they have I take off into the forest, off the trail.  After I get a few feet in I look behind me and they are usually with me (haven’t met a scared landowner yet)! In order to get the full effect of the land and see more you have to dive in, get smacked in the face by branches and trip over sticks to really experience it!

Another way to relate this revelation back is…through my position I provide a lot of education to my communities, landowners, children and other professionals and sometimes the topics I choose are controversial.  Now, if I took the easy way out, would that be fair to myself, would I really be succeeding at what I am trying to fulfill?  If I did not bring up topics like climate change, the newly endangered Northern Long-Eared bat, or fighting against subjects like hinge cutting or letting invasive species grow because one persons view is different than mine- is that cutting myself short?  I say yes I am cutting myself short.  So, I continually keep taking the path of resistance and not putting my views onto someone else but rather get the education out there, so hopefully one day folks will have that knowledge to not be “scared of the unknown” but rather face it head on!  I continue to pave my own path in forestry and life.

I challenge you to not take the path today–but rather pave your own path. If it fails today-take it tomorrow and you may succeed in ways you never imagined!

Stream "inspiration"
Stream “inspiration”
Cruising through the white pines
Cruising through the white pines
Hello- White Pine!
Hello- White Pine!
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