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I had fully intended to walk to the falls on Friday ~ past my favorite bridge, covered with slush, up the hill with its slicks of ice which forced me to the edges where some snow covered dog tracks assured me of safe passage, past the bench overlooking the hill proclaiming that “life’s memories are found in the hills", to the left of the horse trail covered with snow, till I came to a thirty foot long stretch of trail which was covered with an inch of more thick sheet of ice… at which point I figured that discretion was the better part of valor, and that it was beyond my fast tiring body and slick trail boots to navigate my way to the falls – they would have to wait for a warmer day…

On my way back over the bridge which was now sporting a slightly faster moving river below it, as the pace of the snow melt had seemingly accelerated in the half hour since I had last seen it, I decided to turn sharp left, descending the narrow gulley, sideways like a skier walking down a steep hill, into a wide expanse of forest flanked by the river adjacent to the side of a cliff on one hand, and the parkway on the other. As I futilely searched for the group of rocks by the river which had served me well as meditation harbors during warmer days, I stopped singing, which I am often wont to do anyway, because there is something about the slowing down of the water as it approaches bend of the river that seems to ask me to be in silence and bathe in the stillness…

And in becoming quiet, I not only heard stillness but actually felt and saw the stillness… for there, across the river, flowing down the cliff facing me, was this gorgeous waterfall – completely still and frozen! I had indeed found the waterfall I had set out for, except that it had been transposed a mile and a half downstream to a location where I had least expected it to be… and it was flowing like a frozen exclamation point straight into the river that had slowed down enough to appreciate its silence and stillness…

You may ascribe my ‘waterfall’ to serendipity or happenstance. And that may well be so. But I prefer to call it the result of a willingness to let go of a predetermined path and destination, and being flexible enough to keep walking and let guidance choose a path for me… a wandering.

We often get so invested in the efficiency of our tasks, in getting as quickly from point A to point B, guided by maps on our phones, with live traffic updates and all that, so focused on the destination, that we often miss the beauty and joy that we may be rewarded with if we were to go off the grid and spend a few extra minutes on the slightly longer path that winds through the thicket less traveled… Is it perhaps not a worthy trade off – the journey off of the beaten path, a miniature wandering of sorts?

So, what is your ‘waterfall’ or wandering story of the week? What is it that you were so focused on accomplishing at the outset of the week? Did you accomplish what you set out to do so, but in a totally different way? What did you learn in the process? How will what you learnt serve you in the future when the ‘goal of the hour’ becomes seemingly intractable?

A new waterfall awaits you. I hope you will take some steps towards it, discover some new, less efficient paths along the way… for like Mahatma Gandhi, an inspiration for MLK Jr, is known to have famously said – “There is more to life than increasing its speed”.

I hope to see some of you, if not all of you, in our live chat on twitter, Sunday, January 17th at 9amET/2pmUTC. I will try to keep the wandering to a minimum during the live hour, but who knows what we may encounter… come and find out…

Kumud @AjmaniK

P.S. January 18th is MLK Jr Day in the US. Martin Luther King famously said – “I have a Dream”. His dream empowered, energized and gave life to the dreams of millions of others. I am sure that there were many who thought that his walk, his path towards his dream was inefficient, but he did not stop walking… and who would dare call his walks ineffective? The message of his life is that achieving a dream can be messy, slippery, and often inefficient – but it keeps us getting out of bed everyday with a smile on our face and a skip in our step. Doesn’t it? Thank you, MLK Jr. Your dream lives on…

Wandering, Nature, Waterfall, Winter