Abi and I were knee deep in scrub brush and wildflowers on a Brighton ski slope, contemplating crossing a group of fallen dead trees. They were blackened and sharp, pointing up in jagged warning.
Hmmm, that doesn’t look easy.
We had just clambered over a bunch of rocks and the steep pitch was making it very difficult to run, and we were supposed to be running. We were being timed, and time was ticking. But, these trees looked too foreboding.
We stopped. We took a minute and pulled out our map.
We were between flags 8 and 9 on our orienteering course. I am a brand new orienteerer (is that a word? Let’s pretend it is). I agreed to the “advanced short course” since it was only 4.5K. What I didn’t realize is that 4.5K was the orienteering distance, measured by the map, and using the shortest distance between every point.
Turns out, it is nearly impossible to go directly from one flag to the next. We were “off course” again. I had the map, and I asked Abi, “So, what is this little dotted line? Is that a trail?”
She said, “Yes! That’s a service road! It’s just above us. Let’s go up to that and then go over and drop down. I think that will be faster.”
Thighs burning, we slugged uphill to what was, gloriously, a faint dirt service road. We started running again, unimpeded, and it felt like the sweetest freedom.
- The breeze was blowing.
- My legs were moving through air instead of obstacles.
- We cruised down the service road and easily found flag 9.
- In the process, we ran farther, but we went considerably faster.
I had a ridiculous fit of laughter. Turns out, because time was ticking, we forgot about all the beautiful animal teachers that live in the mountains where we ski and bike and run.
We forgot about the natural paths that were under the snow all winter: the game trails, the dried streambeds, the banks of the creeks.
When we slowed down, we could use the map better, and also, we could intuit the path of least resistance. We could save time. We could save energy. We could flow through the course with much greater ease and fun.
Of course! The fastest way to finish the game is to take the path of least resistance.
Look around you. Are you making things harder than they need to be? Are you trying to be direct and force something? Are you trying and trying and getting very little done?
Maybe it’s time to stop and check your map: There are streams. There are roads. There are game trails. There are signs. There is a path of least resistance.
Sometimes, we unnecessarily make things hard.
- We are critical and impatient.
- We neglect our physical and mental health.
- We forget that there are people who can help.
- We think others should behave differently.
The good news is that, every day, and every moment, you can reduce resistance.
- You can be kind to yourself and deeply rest.
- You can take care of your body and mind to feel strong.
- You can reach out.
- You can stop trying to control anyone other than yourself.
Beautiful orienteerer: Take a deep breath. You have time. You are always going to get somewhere. Your path can always be interesting and educational. There will always be another obstacle, another opportunity, another flag, another course, and another chance.
Abi and I rocked that course, flags and times and map be damned. We were outside running around an insanely gorgeous ski resort full of flowers and stunning trees! An orienteerer was born! One of the best moments of the day was the dance party we had in the car before we started the course. We have amazing dance moves. We are orienteering goddesses!
Beautiful reader: You always have a choice about how to get from here to there. Slow down. Take a breath. Enjoy your path. Dance on it. Remember that you are part of a much larger natural design.
Go with the flow.
Stop making things so hard.
Take a breath and use your intuition.
Find the path of least resistance.