The path of least resistance

In the opening of his book ‘The Path of Least Resistance’ Robert Fritz tells us an interesting fact about the city of Boston. ‘The Boston roads were actually formed by utilizing cow paths. The cow moving through the topography tended to move where it was immediately easiest to move… Each time cows passed through the same area, it became easier for them to take the same path they had taken the last time, because the path became more and more clearly defined... As a result, city planning in Boston gravitates around the mentality of the seventeenth-century cow’.

He takes this fascinating fact as a starting point for a discussion on how we can create pathways to achieve our personal and professional goals.

The challenging terrain of our lives can include mountains of expectations, rivers of anxious thoughts, and the bogged ground of habits. There is an art to moving with ease, and navigating with flow. It makes sense to put in place a structure that supports us to find the easiest route through.

Often, we need to start by being really honest with ourselves. For example, I think I want to write words that are brave, and vivid, but when I look closer I realise that I have great deal to lose by writing in a way that challenges society, or my family. Until this conflict is resolved, the energy will not move along the path I intend, because it is not the path of least resistance.  If I keep trying to meet an unrealistic target, and continually fail, my confidence will spiral downwards.

The Weekly Writing Prompt

Take a walk outside. Follow any paths of animals, or other wild things (for example: water and wind) that you come across. Notice how they flow around natural obstacles- how they make their lives as easy as possible. Write a poem, or piece of prose about it.

How is this experience of nature a metaphor for your writing life? It might help to ask the following questions:

-What is it like, the terrain of my life?

-What obstacles are there?

-In which ways do I choose the difficult paths?

-What would it mean to take ‘the path of least resistance’?

-How could I set up my life so that the easiest route through is the one most clearly signed?