Paths of Desire

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 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.

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9 Comments

Filed under paths of desire

9 responses to “Paths of Desire

  1. Jane Clarke

    First off, I am just catching up to the fact that your mom has left us or I would have written sooner. Your mom, who meant so much to me in her authenticity and love of life, is indelibly etched into my memory as well as in my sense of self.

    Lois had an innocence and faith that indeed kept her drawing within the lines and following the rules that you and I were so intent on bending, but her lack of guile and pretense made her soul transparent and her beautiful smile devoid of artifice. She always made me feel like part of the family and her laughter was ever-ready as you and I were buffeted about by the tortuous 60s.

    I remember many wonderful Lois stories as she ran from one event to the other in a flurry…and I remember how loved she was in the community…but most of all I remember the undying love between your mom and dad and how they were the model of what a good relationship was for me.

    All my love to you and your wonderful family.

    Jane

    • Jane, thanks for your beautiful and perceptive comments about Kim and my Mom.
      Warm memories of your and Kim’s youthful antics and willingness to often include me.

    • Thank you, Janie, for giving me back so much on my mom. I love the “drawing within the lines” and running late to everything. I love it all. This is something we can seriously give each other now: memories of each other’s mother. For you were the most fortunate girl in the world to me, with Miggs.

      • Jane Clarke PhD

        Yes, we need to create space by the window seat to do a little time traveling and to wonder about the existential lines of demarcation between then and now. We are indeed a summation of all our unique experiences and laughter and when our memories join to fill in added color to the tapestry, South Main and Marbern Drive will come alive.

  2. Dulcie Witman

    Reading this brings so much of mine and my mother’s paths up into my heart and mind. The similarities that we shared, knowingly and unknowingly. The differences that put us at odds and distinguished us from each other. The way they live on and on in us. Thank you for all of that felt remembering, Kim.

    • “The similarities that we shared, knowingly and unknowingly. The differences that put us at odds and distinguished us from one another. The way they live on and in us.” It does all seem like one story, doesn’t it? I always looked at you as so strong, Dulcie. Now I must be as well.

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