Lessons # 6/ April 2013

Follow the Deer

Deer are amazing animals.  They take leaping bounds at 40 miles an hour.  They can jump 9 foot high fences.  And they can even swim 13 mph (I wonder who clocked deer swimming).   They’re also great teachers.

Picture this.  You’re hiking through a wooded area and you come to a broad meadow with a stream running through it.  The shortest way across the meadow is a direct course straight ahead.  But, you notice a deer path that seems to follow the tree line in a broad circle around the meadow.  Should you take the direct path or follow the deer path?

Here’s another scenario.  Again, picture yourself hiking through a wooded, hilly area.  You arrive at a ridge.  The shortest way to get over the ridge is to head straight up the hill.  But, you notice a deer path that angles up the side of the hill.  What to do, follow the trail or go straight?

And yet one more situation where you’re bushwhacking through woods with lots of low brush.  Again, you have a choice.  You can follow a deer track that winds through the forest or you can take a much straighter course as you continue to bushwhack.  What to do?

Returning to the first situation, trust me, follow the deer trail.  Or, discover for yourself why you should have trusted me and followed the deer path.  It only took me half a dozen repeated “discoveries” before I accepted deer as my teachers.  Those were the times I ignored their path, a path that most likely dated back hundreds of years, to take the shortest route to my destination.  In every one of those situations,  the meadows turned out to be soggy messes that took forever to get through.  No wonder the deer skirted the tree line where the ground was still firm.

In the case of the ridge facing you, you do have two choices.  You can take the direct route straight up the hill which will also require the most energy and stamina.  Or, you can follow the deer trail and know that you are walking precisely on the path of least resistance – though longer. 

And in the last situation, please, PLEASE, follow the deer trail.  Here’s why.  Many parts of the country have hornets that make ground hives where thousands of the stinging critters live.  Step on one of those hives and you’ll discover just how many hornets are there and how much it hurts to be stung by them.  But, hornets never make hives on deer paths.  I guess they don’t care for the animals walking over them.

Are there lessons for life here?  I think so.  Here are a few that occur to me.

1.   We love shortcuts.  We love to cut through the woods, find shorter ways to drive to our favorite places and figure out how to achieve life goals in the shortest amount of time.  You know from your own experience how many times “short cuts” end up being very long, tedious paths.   Deer teach us to skirt the areas that are going to bog us down – whether physically,  mentally, emotionally or even spiritually.

2.   If you have the energy to confront something head on, directly, go for it.  But, if you don’t have the energy or know that you will need to conserve your energy, take the sideways path to achieve your goal.  It doesn’t matter if you get there an hour a day a year longer.  What matters is that you make it to your goal and have enough energy and sanity left to take advantage of it.

3.   Don’t walk on hornet nests.  And we all have hornet nests in our lives.  Most of the time we can avoid hornets but sometimes we just lose our minds and plow right through them.  Of course, we get stung.  When hiking through the woods or pursuing your life goals, do your best to locate the potential hornet nests and avoid them if you can.  If you happen on one and get stung, know that you will live and the hurt will go away with time and little care.  Don’t let some hornets stop you.   



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