Change: Taking The Path of Least Resistance


Ian Summers


Sam Foss wrote The Calf Path in 1895. It’s about a calf who wandered through the woods one day turning this way and that; just following her instincts looking for some fresh sweet grass. She created a rather crooked path which was followed the next day by a Native American child looking for the easiest way to cross the forest. Several years later Conestoga wagons followed the same path which eventually turned into a dirt road trodden by horseless carriages. And on about the hundredth anniversary of the calf’s walk through the woods, the Federal government cut the ribbon for a winding ten lane interstate highway commemorating a long forgotten calf’s search for a good meal.

The Calf Path

One day thru the primeval wood
A calf walked home, as good calves should;
But made a trail, all bent askew,
A crooked trail, as all calves do.
Since then 300 years have fled,
And I infer the calf is dead.
But still, he left behind his trail
And thereby hangs my mortal tale.

The trail was taken up next day
By a lone dog that passed that way.
And then, a wise bell weathered sheep
Pursued the trail, o’er~vale and steep,
And drew the flocks behind him too
As good bell weathers always do.
And from that day, o’er hill and glade
Thru those old woods, a path was made.

And many men wound in and out,
And dodged, and turned, and bent about,
And uttered words of righteous wrath
Because ’twas such a crooked path,
But still they followed, do not laugh,
The first migrations of that calf.
And thru the winding woods they stalked
Because he wobbled when he walked.

This forest path became a lane
That bent, and turned, and turned again.
This crooked lane became a road
Where many a poor horse with his load
Toiled on beneath the burning sun
And traveled some three miles in one.
And thus a century and a half
They trod the footsteps of that calf.

The years passed on in swiftness fleet,
The road became a village street.
And this, before men were aware,
A city’s crowed thoroughfare.
And soon the central street was this
Of a renowned metropolis.
And men, two centuries and a half
Trod the footsteps of that calf.

Each day a 100 thousand route
Followed the zig-zag calf about,
And o’er his crooked journey went
The traffic of a continent.
A 100 thousand men were led
By one calf, near three centuries dead.
They followed still his crooked way
And lost 100 years per day.
For this such reverence is lent
To well establish precedent.

A moral lesson this might teach
Were I ordained , and called to preach.
For men are prone to go it blind
Along the calf paths of the mind,
And work away from sun to sun
To do what other men have done.
They follow in the beaten track,
And out, and in, and forth, and back,
And still their devious course pursue
To keep the paths that others do.

They keep the paths a sacred groove
Along which all their lives they move.
But how the wise old wood gods laugh
Who saw that first primeval calf.
Ah, many things this tale might teach,
But I am not ordained to preach.

Sam Walter Foss

Let’s face it, change is disturbing. The natural tendency is to stick with what we know, play it safe and gravitate towards the familiar. Overtly and covertly, we resist change! It is impossible to grow without change and risk. When we resist change and leave things just the way they have always been, we leave our existence totally to chance. And if that doesn’t work, we often develop victim mentality.

The nasty little secret is that there is something emotionally satisfying
about portraying yourself as a victim.

In my opinion, the world follows the calf’s path and resists change. We hear the voices of judgment. We have forgotten why we exist. It is no longer enough to do the same thing or even to do the same things differently. We need to do different things. To do something new. To grow. To change. To take risks. To temporarily surrender security. If it is not broke, we need to break it! We need to learn ways to manifest love!