Stepping off the Path

I spend a lot of time in the woods and even more time now, during these glorious Fall days. Sometimes I have a destination in mind—a particular oak I want to sit under to write or a creek bank I want to explore—but just as often I am wondering while I wander, my dogs my companions.

The other day I began as I often do—I started down a well-worn path I have been following for over 20 years, for it will quickly take me deep into the woods, where I can go on to Jordan Lake or stop at a pond or explore the old homestead up on a ridge.

But that morning I decided to practice what I preach in my classes and workshops and I left the path sooner than I usually do and my dogs and I headed down a slope in the forest to where I knew I would find a network of creek tributaries collecting themselves into a main channel to flow into the lake.

I enjoyed the hour or so of simply following the creek branches or a dog’s dash after a scent and before long I was exploring woods that I hadn’t discovered before, enjoying the wonderful sensations and thoughts that come from not knowing exactly where I was.

Then it was time to head back, and if I didn’t know where I was, I did know the general direction I should hike to find forest more familiar. After a while I was delighted by a new discovery, a path that was unfamiliar to me. It confused me just a moment, for I have been walking in these woods for nearly 30 years, four or five times a week, and I had never come across this path before, so I decided to follow it, to see where it led, for it was well worn.

And I followed it for all of about a minute before I realized that this was my path, my familiar path, my main path; because I had left it and returned to it in a new way, I experienced it in a way I hadn’t before. It seemed new. I saw details I’d never noticed.

It’s one more natural example of developing Creative Perspectives on the project you’re working on. Step away from the familiar, spend some time considering other matters, and then return to it in a new way for a fresh view that just might reveal the insight you’ve been searching for.


2 thoughts on “Stepping off the Path

  1. Carl,
    I really enjoyed your post. My dad instilled a love of walking in me as a little girl. Like you, I’ve walked nearly every day for the past 30 years. And, like you, I’ve blogged about it:

    Loved your realization that by “stepping off the path,” even for a few short paces, we can return to our project with a fresh perspective. You make it sound so simple.


    • carlnordgren says:

      Hey Rebecca, Great to hear from you. And thanks for introducing the word ‘Simple’. It is what I strive for with this content I call Creative Populism. The simple basics that are available to all.

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