Paulo Coelho

Stories & Reflections

How the path was made

Author: Paulo Coelho

By Paulo Coelho

In issue 106 of Jornalinho (Portugal), I found a story that has a lot to teach us about the unthinking choices we make.
One day, a calf needed to cross an area of virgin forest in order to return to its field. Being an irrational animal, it forged a tortuous, curving path, going up hill and down dale.
The following day, a dog passed that way and used the same path to cross the forest. Then it was the turn of a ram, the leader of a flock, who, seeing the path already opened, led his companions along it.
Later, men began to use the path too: they came and went, turning to right and left, having to crouch down and to avoid obstacles, all the while complaining and cursing – and quite rightly too. But they did nothing about creating an alternative.
After all this intensive use, the path became a small road along which laboured poor, heavily-laden animals, obliged to spend three hours covering a distance which, had they not followed the path forged by the calf, could easily have been covered in thirty minutes.
Many years passed, and the little road became the main street of a small town, and later the principal avenue of a city. Everyone complained about the traffic, because the road followed the worst possible route.
Throughout all this, the wise old forest laughed to see how blindly men follow the path already made, never asking themselves if that is indeed the best choice.

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