Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Birds and bees do it. Rivers do it. Let's...

Desire Paths. Do They Make You Smile Too? 

Last week I've been thinking about why desire paths make me smile. Better: make me laugh a lot :)) Ever noticed the eroded shortcuts caused by footfall where constructed pathways take a circuitous route?  The paths usually represent the shortest and/ or most easily navigated route between an origin and destination.

Did you know that those shortcuts had a name? I didn't. I found out only a couple of months ago.

1. The birds and bees do it. Rivers do it! (Here is the life history of a meander.) Look at the bends in rivers. The water that crawls like a snake through the landscape. The play of water and obstructions (rock, harder soil, trees, etc).  And  human intervention when we channelize them.
2. People do it! At school we learn - the hard way - how we have to write and speak properly. And in real life? We play with language. What we write on Twitter and via SMS is a mix of abbreviations, emoticons :) , #hashtags, wrds whre lettrs are missng, different languages, words that make sense in a context, single letters or digits replacing words or syllables, slang etc. In real life we use language most of the time in a shortcut format. Ever read a properly written shoppinglist?
3. Cain and Abel did it! Desire paths are connected to the old story of the two sons of Adam and Eve in the (Hebrew) Bible. Remember the story? Cain is a farmer and his younger brother Abel is a shepherd. Abel is murdered by Cain. The fight between constructed pathways versus desire paths is deep down - since 10,000 BC - the fight between farmers/ settled people/ Cain versus  hunter-gatherers/ Abel.

Why do shortcuts make me smile? Because every-time when we're trespassing the non-constructed soil of Others we are feeding the hunter-gatherer/ Abel in us. Most (who not?) of us live in our time and age settled in houses but ... deep down we long for wandering. We have wanderlust ;) 

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