Foxes and Wrong Directions

I continue to reflect on what it means to be a bumbler. Bumblers aren’t always effective. Management rolls its eyes at bumbler-types. Sometimes we plod. Sometimes we meander. And – praise be! – sometimes we have potent bursts of inspiration that come as sweet surprise. On the whole, we get done what needs done – but rarely as pretty as others who break through the finish-tape in graceful stride.

One of my favorite Wendell Berry lines (from his poem “Mad Farmer Liberation Front“) gets at this:

Be like the fox
who makes more tracks than necessary,
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

I used to be terrified of wrong directions. Wrong answers. Wrong calculations. Wrong words. Exhausting. It tires me just to type it. Of course, there’s no inherent virtue in being wrong, but the fear of making a misstep can keep a fellow glued to his seat. And you have to get out of your seat to live. Or love.

The fox roams about, making unnecessary tracks, tracks that serve no discernable function. They simply arrive as part of the day’s journey, the day’s discovery. They are what we leave behind as we are roaming, figuring out what exactly it is we are to do and where exactly it is we are to go.

And – as Berry says – all of this is the practice (the living) of resurrection. The resurrection refashions the whole order of things and gives opportunity for every step and every sprig – even the misplaced or misdirected ones – to brim with beauty and joy.

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