Game Trails

The forest closes behind me and now
this subtle path at my feet
is the red thread between worlds,
a path made by the soft steps
of wild things who are at home
in the tangled mystery.

But I am new to this way of walking—
how the trail flirts and teases,
fading and hiding and calling you on;
how it disappears and makes you choose
before revealing itself again;
the way it tempts you with
countless branching connections
so you could end up anywhere
you didn’t want to be.

But if you move slowly, softly,
pausing to fully arrive
at each new revelation,
you can find—among a thousand paths
through the forest—the one path
that knows your name.

The park near my house has a few hundred acres of old growth forest with some great established trails through it. But lately I’ve found myself drawn to game trails—the barely discernible tracks through the thickest parts of the woods.

They’re not always easy to spot. Often they just look like little dents in the forest’s edge. But then if you look closely you’ll find a thin, patchy strip of worn earth leading who-knows-where.

And then the game is on.

When I’m on a game trail the way I walk changes. I slow way down. I try to keep each footstep as soft and quiet as possible.

Sometimes they peter out into nothing right away. Or they disappear into a clearing, leaving me to backtrack or find a new way on. Often I find myself spending long moments standing still, orienting myself and noticing what the forest is doing around me.

There’s a way of living like that. Slowing down. Being attentive to the conversation between yourself and the wilderness around you.

Sometimes it’s the only way to get where you really long to be.


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