In Praise of Taking the Long Way

This Land Is MILCK’s Land
June 7, 2020
Uncommon Challenge: Shifting Gears
June 7, 2020

Hikers on a trail

A version of this story appeared in the summer 2020 issue of Uncommon Path.  When I lived in Los Angeles, I developed the habit of exploring the city by following a simple rule: Never get from start to finish the same way. There was beauty in covering 10 as-the-crow-flies miles in a meandering walk that often […]

The post In Praise of Taking the Long Way appeared first on REI Co-op Journal.

Hikers on a trail

A version of this story appeared in the summer 2020 issue of Uncommon Path

When I lived in Los Angeles, I developed the habit of exploring the city by following a simple rule: Never get from start to finish the same way. There was beauty in covering 10 as-the-crow-flies miles in a meandering walk that often doubled the distance. I discovered alleys filled with outsider art; remnants of old railroads and unbuilt housing developments; caves and hidden springs. Finding a route that spoke to my soul, rather than a stopwatch, became my abiding ethic.

But then I left L.A., moving with my young family to New Hampshire as an experiment in rural living. The trial failed abruptly one winter morning as I walked down our long driveway and slipped on the ice. As I fell, I thought that I was going to break my arm.

It was worse.

Brain made of flowers

Credit: Yasu + Junko

When I woke up a minute or two later, I couldn’t move—but I could see my right arm convulsing. My first thought was that the arm belonged to someone else. My second was that I must be dead, because I was watching myself from above.

The doctors told me I had broken a vertebra and needed surgery, but that I would regain full use of my limbs fairly quickly. The longer-term issue was my head injury. Even now, a year and a half later, I forget things, my life a giant to-do list broken into 15-minute blocks. A part of my brain does not function as it did. The goal of my (twice a week) rehab is to bypass those dead zones. The straight line between thought and expression no longer exists. I’m forced, now, to take the long way in everything I do.

But despite the difficulty, or maybe because of it, I have developed a deeper appreciation for the ethic of circuitous discovery. Relearning, it turns out, is learning—and my slow pace reveals fresh perspectives that I could never anticipate. It’s been a reaffirmation for me that taking the long way—now my only way—is by far the best way.

The post In Praise of Taking the Long Way appeared first on REI Co-op Journal.

This post was published on REI-Hiking first, and we delivered it to you as news for your convenience. To subscribe to more awesome posts, like this one, subscribe to the News RSS Feed.

Comments are closed.