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Beyond the Well-Worn Path

“…Once you leave the cow path, the unpredictable territory is full of life.”  

            –Barbara Brown Taylor

  I grew up in the country, down the road from a dairy farm where daily the cows would mosey out to pasture, following a well-worn path they’d created.  I could easily picture that cow path in Barbara Brown Taylor’s line above.

The deeper part of why the quote caused me to pause is the larger metaphor it represents:  the perpetual opportunity I have to explore, re-create, reimagine life and what it might hold.  Possibility is at the edges of each of our cow paths.   Routine has never been much of a draw for me– the edges are much more interesting.   Over my career I’ve said “Yes!” to several bold, blank-slate opportunities to design and initiate programs and services.  Those times helped teach me the art of listening and the ability to weave ideas into new offerings.  It’s good to remind myself of that capability.

This time around, with the new rhythms of living with COVID-necessary restrictions, much of what I’d like to do is often just not possible.  Convene a face-to-face retreat? Hug my grandson?  Have friends come and stay at my condo?  I can rail against not being able to do these things, which is ultimately an unsatisfying expenditure of energy and keeps me within the ruts of my particular cow path.  In all this, I find myself reflecting on some questions:

  • How might I look at the underlying desire of those activities and find new ways to meet those desires?
  • What other activities might I creatively undertake that have been patiently waiting for me to allocate more focused energy and time to them? 

Asking myself these questions has brought some new thinking and ideas to the forefront.  I’m finding some new ways to engage my time and interests as opposed to just enduring the hours of the day.  And I’m playing around with a new personal project that activates my creativity as I explore those possibilities. Our ruts likely don’t serve us in the juicy parts of life.  I’d invite you to imagine a special personal project of your own, something that has an element of fun, or challenge, or meaning that moves into territory you’ve wanted to explore, but haven’t.   And know I’d be happy to hear about what you’re scheming!

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