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Paths That Lead Nowhere


Heidegger says:

"Wood" is an old name for forest. In the wood there are paths, mostly overgrown, that come to an abrupt stop where the wood is untrodden.

They are called Holzwege.

Each goes its separate way, though within the same forest. It often appears as if one is identical to another. But it only appears so. Woodcutters and forest keepers know these paths. They know what it means to be on a Holzweg."

Most of the time, since such paths have been covered over with time, the uninitiated will find themselves losing their tracks. They try to trace their path back, to see where they took a wrong step, but only to find out again that the path suddenly disappears. The path unknowingly ends. There seems to be no next step. This is where the path comes to a stop and where the sojourner has to decide. Shall he turn around and head back or shall he go on off the beaten track? For sometimes, when he is patient, he may find new paths. But he knows. He knows that the danger of moving on off the track is that he may lose his way in the dark heart of the forest. And there he shall be forever lost.

But seldom still, such paths may lead to a clearing in the forest. There, woodcutters work on their timber, using the light which finally pierces through the otherwise dark wood. There one can finally see. See whatever may show itself. Listen amidst the deafening silence of the wood. And wait for the coming. This is the Lichtung. This is the clearing where nothing can be done but to wait.

Wait until one would have to leave the clearing, and again walk on paths that may lead to nowhere, or to yet another clearing. But what is important is that one leave the clearing.

One cannot wait forever.

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