The Pathway

Martin Heidegger

It runs through the park gate and out towards Ehnried. The old linden trees in the castle garden gaze after it from behind the wall, whether at Easter when the path shines bright between growing crops and waking meadows, or at Christmas when it disappears in snowdrifts behind the nearest hill. At the wayside crucifix it turns off towards the woods. Along its edge it greets a tall oak beneath which stands a roughly hewn bench.

On the bench there occasionally lay one or another of the great thinkers' writings which youthful clumsiness was trying to decipher. When the puzzles crowded into each other and there seemed no way out, the pathway was a help. It quietly escorts one's steps along the winding trail through the expanse of untilled land.

Time and again when my thinking is caught in these same writings or in my own attempts, I go back to the trail traced by the pathway through the fields. It remains just as ready for the thinker's steps as for those of the farmer who goes out to mow in the early morning.

More frequently through the years, the oak by the wayside carries me off to memories of childhood games and early choices. When deep in the forest an oak would occasionally fall under the axe's blow, my father would immediately go looking throughout the woods [12] and sunny clearings for the cord allotted him for his workshop. There he labored thoughtfully during pauses from his job of keeping the tower clock and the bells, both of which maintain their own relation to time and temporality.

From the bark of the oak tree little boys carved their boats which, fitted with rowers' benches and tillers, floated in Metten Brook or in the school fountain. On these journeys of play you could still easily get to your destination and return home again. The dream-element in such voyages remained held in a


Martin Heidegger (GA 16) Heidegger the Man and the Thinker