photo by Paul Mayer
BY KIMBERLY MAYER
When Walt Disney designed Disneyland, he looked to see where people walked before committing those paths to concrete. Frank Lloyd Wright followed much the same principle. And today in Finland, land planners visit parks after the first snowfall of the year to best determine their layout of paths.
Otherwise paths will present themselves organically. Wikipedia states that “as few as 15 passages over a site can be enough to create a distinct trail, the existence of which then attracts further use.” Whether it is in pursuit of a short cut or a wandering at whim, ‘paths of desire’ emerge as people make their own way across the meadows, fields, parks, and median strips in parking lots of their lives.
Our feet go where they’d like, so to speak.
But not my mother’s. Given a choice, she did not trample on the grass. She did not question the rules. What my mother always desired, it seemed, were paved walks in life.
What did she think of us, I wonder? Did she think us all anarchists? I never asked her. Now I wish I had.
But I will tell you that only a few years ago I had the pleasure of walking a labyrinth path with her. We were on Orcas Island and the labyrinth garden at Emmanuel Episcopal Parish church in Eastsound presented itself. Labyrinths were originally designed by churches, primarily Episcopal, as a way to get parishioners back into the fold. How clever is that?
Walking the labyrinth appealed to us both and the church yard was all ours for half the afternoon. Over and over we walked the singular path in silence to the center, and out again. I found it calming, hypnotic, —a moving meditation.
I think I began to understand her patience that day.
Perhaps that was it, all those years. My mother had found that in following a path that presented no navigational challenges, like our labyrinth, she could find her own thoughts.
I am going to go with that.