Nothing is really work unless you would rather be doing something else. — Unknown
Last Saturday, twenty Lemurians gathered here at the Fellowship, not for finding a new path, but for maintaining those we have cleared over the last seven years. After that work, we got together for one of our pancake breakfasts in Rhu House, which is always a great chance to talk and listen to each other, delighting in two things Lemurians do best – eating and talking. This seemed a good time to reminisce about our trails and some of what they mean to us, too.
At the Fellowship we live on the side of a hill, with a breathtaking view of the Santa Maria Valley to the north and boulder-strewn Mt. Woodson to the west. Moving from apartment to community building to office is great aerobic exercise, but not ideal walking conditions. So we began finding a new path through the chaparral surrounding our grounds, planning to create a leveler, easier-to-walk path.
Our chaparral mixes wild lilac, sumac, scrub oak, manzanita, chemise, blackbutton sage. In nature, this burns off every twenty or thirty years, but with more people living in this environment, we are learning how to reduce devastating fires. Our brush is forty years old, up to twenty feet high, and thick. In finding a new path, we left uncut brush on either side arching over to keep it cool even on hot summer days and better than a road for walking.
The first trail we started led into poison oak , so we abandoned it. To make the least work, we took out the thinnest saplings, favoring swaths of easily removed low brush. There were no signs of human activity except for a well-shredded potato chip bag probably dragged into the brush by a coyote from the highway below. You could hear cars on that road, an occasional dog barking from a distant house, but the further into the brush we pushed, the more secluded and peaceful it was.
We worked on the trail early before starting work, often surprising a trill from a sleepy thrush, or hearing the furtive skulking of a fox or bounding of a rabbit as they moved away from the sound of sawing, lopping, or dragged brush. (Skunks neither skulk nor bound. They go calmly about their business, but if they start huffing or stamping, you should start skulking or bounding in another direction.)
The Fellowship’s fourth president loved to blaze challenging trails, heading up a stony area to make one we call Rocky Road and a steeper one dubbed Stairway to the Stars. Now that he is resting between lives, we feel sure he is finding a new path and that it will be a challenging one too.
Gradually our trail expanded into a network of connecting paths. We tramp it on cool mornings or walk Buddy there on hot afternoons, where he relishes the shade and the scent of many creatures, invisible to us but plain as day to his sensitive nose.
Finding a new path is like living a life. There are false starts as you test possibilities before finding one that seems promising. You ask advice from those who have cleared their own trails, and benefit from their experience. You work around major obstacles, and the resulting path isn’t straight but twists and winds toward your goal.
Grubbing out obstacles is hard, there are disappointments and regrets. But you learn more efficient ways to do it, and the encouragement as the path takes shape is welcome. It’s a relief when friends take an interest and help, and one thing that keeps you going is knowing that others you love will benefit from your work. And as you look back over the trail you’ve created, or the life you’ve lived, it almost seems you were uncovering a path that was inevitable, and meant to be found.
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