The Path of Least Resistance: Which Way Now?

Van Gogh said, “The more ill I become, the sicker I get, the more I wish to take my revenge by painting.”

I had a friend a few years ago who told me to read this "great book." It was called The Path of Least Resistance or something. And because I trusted this friend and knew him to be well-read, well-educated, and generally quite wise, I read the book. Now, years later, I can't comment on the book too much because after a few pages, it struck me as crap. I suppose the path of least resistance is a good idea in theory - the idea that you follow where life leads you and put up little resistance. Instead of fighting with obstacles, you simply ignore them or walk around them, which seems wise on the face of it, but I’m not sure it's the way to be.

Another friend, also years ago, was up with me late one night, or very early in the morning, depending on how you look at it, and we were lying on the bed looking up at the ceiling. We had indulged in an elixir that had us waxing philosophical all night, and since we were both philosophy majors with an interest and minor in higher math, we tended to discuss abstract and weird things that to most would likely be incredibly boring. Nonetheless... Frank said, "So you're in the desert, and you come to a wall, what do you do?" The idea, he tells me, is that I have to get beyond the wall. I think about this for a while, then
"Frank?"
"Yeah..."
"What's the texture of the wall like?"
Frank laughs. Really laughs. He says, "That is a really fucking trippy question, Sadi..." and laughs some more. He finally says, "Why?" Isn't it obvious, I think. If I’m to get over the wall, I need to know if I can get a grip on it, so the texture is important. He looks at me and says, "Why don't you just walk around it?" He had a good point. This, I think, is the path of least resistance. Why try and surmount an obstacle when you can simply take a different route and not deal with it at all. My assumption was that this illusory wall was like the Great Wall of China and stretched clear across the desert. There was no way to walk around it without traveling for miles out of your way. But in reality, Frank hadn't told me how long or short the wall was. It was just a narrow wall, he imagined, and one could easily just side-step it. What this tells me is that when I see an obstacle, I look directly at the thing itself, not the surrounding terrain.

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Sadi Ranson-Polizzotti is a published writer in both the United States and Europe. She is widely known for her music commentary, particularly her writings about Bob Dylan about whom she runs a highly-trafficked site. …

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