Lately I’ve been thinking about the notion of the “path of least resistance” and how it applies to the ontological and philosophical realms.
There’s a lot there.
The path of least resistance is the one that takes the least effort; in physics, objects or particles or waves will naturally seek out and thus flow in that direction. It doesn’t require choice or impetus or even an impulse or starting energy. Quite the contrary, create that path, and it takes energy to stop that flow.*
And so, when we look at our (individually and, more importantly/profoundly, as a group) actions, it gives us another lens through which to examine and discover insights.
Especially when we need to come at it “backwards”, that is, looking at the results, looking at what’s so, and tracing backwards to see the pathways that led us/them/it/things there.
Because on the individual level, sometimes we can easily get caught up in trying to find some personal localized issue or barrier/fault, one that can easily short-circuit into self-upset, recrimination and frustration.
Because on the group level, sometimes we can all to easily get caught up in pinning some personal, localized, issue or fault that almost certainly will short-circuit into blame, righteous mockery, and feelings of haughty separation. (All non-productive.)
When really, it isn’t so localized, and it isn’t so personal. Even when it’s just us.
It’s all about systems.
What’s the system, what’s the story, what’s the context, what’s the personal/societal view that’s at play here? What’s the system (almost literally) pulling for?
If we see a behaviour out in our world that we find odd, or harmful, and yet seems predominant, what is the system that is at play?
If we find ourselves not completing something, or moreover, not acting in the way we want to, what’s the system at play?
If the outcome always seems to end up the same, what is, or are, the system(s) at play?
If things are not going the way we’d like them to, what are the systems at play?
We can almost count on our collective laziness to point the way, both to the outcome, but also, in sleuth mode, back to the system itself.
On a day-to-day, moment-by-moment basis, we can watch out for where our calculating self automatically chooses that least resistance path. We can be mindful of the choices that lay ahead of us, and choose, even though it may be more difficult, or take longer, or be more uncomfortable, but still choose those paths and actions that will fill our soul with fulfillment and satisfaction and be a true self-expression of our central self and who we want to be.
On a greater level, we can see those easy paths as they are baked into the systems we breathe every day, and begin to have the conversations and take the actions that shift the channel, adding resistance (which sometimes can even be simply by spending the energy to disrupt that easy path through speaking up or questioning or aiding another or voting or learning more or…) to the usual and pushing the flow until the new path is dug deeper and in turn opens up as the new, easy, path of least resistance.
Which is the really great thing about this. There’s nothing inherently wrong with the path of least resistance; quite the contrary, it can be our ally, in the same way we’ve harnessed it for computer chips and our other innovative gadgets.
Once we’ve consciously laid down the productive path of least resistance, then we get to laugh uproariously for it becomes downright easy (and still automatic) to ply those productive ways, flowing effortlessly and towards living life as we truly want to.
* Natch, I’m likely glossing over a thousand nuances and specificities when it comes to this description and there are likely dozens of exceptions, but I think it still holds true enough here, and those exceptions also likewise likely apply in the ontological realm as well…