July 26, 2016

The Path of Least Resistance

When I was a kid, my mother always criticized me for sailing through pretty much everything I tried.

What can I say? Things came easily to me.

But to her, the lack of hard work was a smudge on my character. She thought I was always flying by the seat of my pants, she'd say, and so I started to think that if something was hard for me to do, it was somehow more worthwhile.

But for me, nothing was ever "difficult," per se. It was either easy...or impossible.

Working hard never seemed to improve my odds in getting something done. And if I did get it done, I did it well.

But this constant criticism did make me a bit self-conscious about taking the so-called "easy way" out.

I graduated second in my high school senior class because I was taking college-level English and Biology classes, while the valedictorian was fulfilling just her basic minimum requirements to graduate.

I've pushed myself beyond my comfort zone time and time again. I've conquered science, mathematics, fine art, craft, music, dance, technology, and more.

But when I made the decision to move from New York City to LA, it was based on a very simple premise: Life doesn't have to be this hard.

As I've gotten older, and as I've settled into an "easier" way of living in Southern California, I've found less value in doing difficult things just for the sake of their difficulty.

I'm finally starting to embrace the concept of "the path of least resistance."

My adherence to this policy was put to the test this weekend while I was up in the White Mountains, about five hours north of LA, near the Nevada state border.

To get to our camp, we had to drive our cars—many of which were not 4WD—up a nine-mile dirt road, without bottoming out.

Those of us who've done a bit of off-roading know that in order to be successful in those road conditions, you've got to use both lanes of the two-lane road. You must swerve around all the pits and bumps and rocks and ravines—anything that could give you a flat tire, pierce your oil pan, or get you stuck out in the middle of nowhere.

And in that case, taking the path of least resistance also takes more time and effort, but it ends up being far easier on you and your car.

And out there in the wilderness, when you leave your car behind and set off on foot because even the dirt roads have ended, you've got to watch where you step, too.

There are so many living things underfoot.

Even out there in such a dry climate, in the middle of the summer with record high temperatures, the "belly flowers" are thriving out there.

They blanket the higher elevations...

...yet sometimes they're so tiny you can't really even see that they're flowers from five or six feet above the ground.

And while for some reason you must walk—to get back to your car, to finish a hike, or to merely just see more flowers—you must do so carefully.

It would be easy to just trample all the beauty and the life that's beneath your feet without looking.

But to take the path of least resistance out there in the wild means you're stepping between those flowers, bobbing and weaving around them just like driving on a dirt road.

And instead of trying to save yourself—or your car—you're trying to save another living thing.

You can go easy on the earth below. There's a way to make that hike—or that drive—easy on all those involved.

And you may save your own life—or the life of a budding new tree that's directly in your path.

Bobbing and weaving around life's obstacles rather than plowing through them isn't the same thing as taking a shortcut.

And most of the time, it's far from easy.

Related Posts:
Is It Hard?
It's Not That Hard

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