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Carving a channel

A thin trickle of water rolls down the side of a mountain. At first, the craggy mountain scatters the stream, and droplets fly every which way. Over time, however, the repetitive nature of the trickle begins to impact the mountain, softening certain pathways until they are reliable. The channel that has been made by the trickle of water ultimately becomes the waterfall down to the canyon where a wide river flows.

A herd of elk pauses at the edge of a vast snowy wilderness. They must make their way across the plain to reach their winter calving grounds. The lead elk breaks a path and the others follow, walking single file over the tundra. Swiftly, the hard crust of snow yields to the trampling of thousands of hooves.

Between two towns there is a wide valley filled with scrub and dirt and wildflowers. One town is known for having the best silk in the region. The other town produces the best tailors. For both towns to flourish, the valley must be traversed. Over the years, a dirt path begins to zigzag across the natural landscape as traveling merchants build their trade.

A human being decides to learn a new or unfamiliar skill, such as a language. Within the neural network of that person's brain activity, there is no existing pathway for that language. Therefore, the brain center responsible for the person's native language begins to send messenger impulses along the existing linguistic pathways that cause the brain to build new pathways specific to the new language. With practice over time, those new pathways become reliable, and the language is learned.

There is no channel carved that cannot be overgrown or overwritten. In a drought, the craggy mountain will no longer host a streaming waterfall. Next winter, the elk will have to beat a new path across fresh snow. Country roads are replaced by highways. Brains forget things. Everything is subject to change.

Yet, because everything is subject to change, with the persistence of trickling water a waterfall is carved, with the persistence of elk hooves a path is carved, with the persistence of human feet a road is carved, and with the persistence of practice, language pathways are carved.

What pathways are you consciously and unconsciously carving in your life right now, with persistent thought, word, and action? How are they serving your journey?