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off the beaten track

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)

bird tracks

bird tracks

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:

winter scene


( 18 comments — Leave a comment )
Feb. 28th, 2015 05:46 pm (UTC)
I love those wingprints ;o)
Feb. 28th, 2015 05:48 pm (UTC)
Me toooo.
Feb. 28th, 2015 07:42 pm (UTC)
Oh, such beautiful photos!
Mar. 1st, 2015 09:49 pm (UTC)
Feb. 28th, 2015 10:23 pm (UTC)
Great photos, as usual... I remember a radio interview recently with an Australian who'd just completed an epic horseback journey across the Eurasian steppes. Apparently, it all started when he was mountain-biking in one of the former Soviet republics and thinking he'd found freedom, when all of a sudden, these riders appeared over a hill, swept up to the road (for a short chat, I think) and then vanished again, heading in whatever direction they pleased, completely free of the roads. From that moment, the man's whole definition of freedom had changed.
Mar. 1st, 2015 09:50 pm (UTC)
I can just imagine: all this time, he'd had invisible blinkers on. Or maybe a better way of thinking of it is that each level of freedom opens you up to the possibility of the next one.
Mar. 1st, 2015 12:03 am (UTC)
How delicate and beautiful.
Mar. 1st, 2015 09:51 pm (UTC)
It's strange to think of wings leaving marks, isn't it?
Mar. 1st, 2015 01:01 am (UTC)
That top photo is amazing!
Mar. 1st, 2015 09:52 pm (UTC)
Mar. 1st, 2015 02:15 am (UTC)
I like the musings as much as the picture! It's a good analogy, and sometimes it helps to think of things in a slightly different way.
Mar. 1st, 2015 09:53 pm (UTC)
Thanks--these must be thoughts that everyone has... but maybe it's interesting to see the words or images that come to other people?
Mar. 1st, 2015 02:41 am (UTC)
"I took the road less travelled by--
transmogrified into mud pie."
Mar. 2nd, 2015 03:35 pm (UTC)
Subtitle: How I got to be caked in mud up to my knees :-)
Mar. 1st, 2015 07:36 pm (UTC)
I first read it as YOU did those foot and wing prints. :P

I like your musings. :) I do the same on walks...or rather I used to, before taking (a) kid(s) along with me, especially kids that chatter nonstop.
Mar. 2nd, 2015 03:36 pm (UTC)
If I could give you three magic gifts, one of them would be quiet walks by yourself <3
Mar. 2nd, 2015 02:58 pm (UTC)
But if you see that someone has made a cross-country ski track, don't step in it. Footprints ruin it for skiers.
Mar. 2nd, 2015 03:37 pm (UTC)
I didn't know that! I won't step in them, then. (Haven't seen many around, but the other day we were at a nature preserve of sorts, and there were some there.)
( 18 comments — Leave a comment )

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