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Desire paths

I heard an intriguing phrase the other day - ligne de désir or desire line. Apparently it’s a concept in landscape architecture.

Think of a natural, well-worn walking path that disobeys the sidewalks. A shortcut across the grass.

Image by Duncan Rawlinson

When the constructed path is too long, too steep, unnatural or not there at all, we choose the way that makes sense to us.

It only takes one person to defy the urban planners and a new way is created. I love how this Guardian article says these illicit shortcuts or beelines (note: this comes from the fact that bees will take the shortest, most direct route back to the hive) tell us something about humans.

Desire paths remind us we do not have to follow the script and that we can write our own story – our spontaneous way – of getting from Point A to Point B.

September back-to-school and hybrid back-in-the-office rushes, other people’s schedules and pre-built notions can be challenging. Sometimes what’s a natural path for me feels like the opposite of what’s already been set in concrete.

In the last two years, I learned what a circadian rhythm even means and feel better when I follow mine. Waking to the sunrise, and not an alarm clock, is bliss. Sunday afternoon naps, eggs and toast for supper, solo hikes, epsom salt baths, reading a page of poetry to replace scrolling Instagram; and saying no to some social invitations so I can say yes to a little solitude -- these are life lines I desire.

I try to notice when I’m following someone else’s pattern and have lost track of my own beat -- defaulting to walking on the sidewalk. There's another way. To take this analogy to the end, I may not know exactly where I’m headed but I feel like I’m on the right path.

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