Choosing a Path

Ajo Mountain Trail

Ajo Mountain Trail ©2013 Bo Mackison

“One’s options in this world are as vast as the horizon, which is technically a circle and thus infinitely broad.
Yet we must choose each step we take with utmost caution,
for the footprints we leave behind are as important as the path we will follow.
They’re part of the same journey — our story.” ~ Lori R Lopez

Sherpa and I hiked several of the trails in Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument. When we trekked up the Bull Pasture Trail, we encountered lots of switchbacks, lots of rocky trail. Occasionally we walked along a packed dirt path, but more often we were picking our way through rocky rubble. Every foot placement was a decision.

I noticed that Sherpa and I chose very different paths. He would choose to veer to the side and balance on wobbly stones. I would choose to climb up larger, more solid rocks, balancing with my hiking stick and my hands when necessary. He sidestepped down the side of an arroyo, slip sliding as he descended. I did my sidesteps in smaller increments, testing the stability of the rocks so I had a firm footing. We each choose different paths, but we chose our individual paths with intention.

So different — hiking on a rocky trail versus strolling on a smooth sidewalk. For the majority of us, a sidewalk poses little problem. We barely notice where we place our feet. We walk, usually heading to a destination, and often pay little attention to our surroundings. Walking on a rocky path requires concentration and deliberation, the path is seldom designed for speed, and often rewards us with magnificent views.

The kinds of paths we choose can apply to living a full life, also. We can choose to walk the easier path, walk it in such a way as to never call attention to ourselves. Follow the same path as everyone else. Or we can maneuver over a rockier trail, choosing our own way. We can walk with intention. We can be observant. We can take in the view.

I can’t do all of my walking climbing a mountain path, but I don’t want to do all of my walking on a sidewalk either.


Bo Mackison is a photographer and owner of Seeded Earth Studio LLC. She continues to make discoveries when she connects with the natural world.

About Bo Mackison

I'm a photographer, book-artist, traveler, naturalist, and creator of the Contemplative Creatives Journey, An Online Workshop and Community and Desert Wisdom Cards and Workshops. Though often not well known, I find the desert a welcoming place - a healing space. Its mysteries and gifts transformed me several years ago. Since that first encounter, I return again and again to fill my well in what most people think of as a desolate region. I'd love to share my desert discoveries and wisdom with you. Please subscribe to receive my five part mini email course The Gifts of the Desert. It's my gift to you.


  1. Interesting observation. It also looks like a great trail for hiking.

  2. I completely agree. I’m currently reading Emerson’s essay on “Self Reliance.” His sentiments coincide with yours, except I think he would never walk the sidewalk.

  3. Good metaphor. Sometimes those gravelly screes are exciting, sometimes when we begin to love the excitement, we lose our footing and wind up in thorny scrub. It all depends on balance, on choices.

  4. A fascinating look at the minutiae of decisions, choices, individualism. Lovely photo as well – I can almost smell the desert-y dust and hear the rocks crunching underfoot. Ahhh….

    • Bo Mackison says:

      I rather like d the crunch of the rocks, too. The amazing thing — we were in a canyon and when we stopped, the silence was deafening! Until late afternoon when the birds sang to keep us company. 🙂

  5. Gorgeous scene!

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