Long ago, before the first cities were built, people did not live in one place but instead walked great distances during their lives. They did not wander aimlessly. They looked for signs, for subtle pathways that the Earth provided, and each found his or her going the easier for it. For the trails were their very own.

Still they sometimes forgot this, when after many years navigating those paths had become second nature. And then they would long to leave the trail and strike out on their own. But sooner or later they would realise that the new road they were making was the same one they were following, and they would remember again that the way was not set for them but part of them.

And sometimes those trails curved away by themselves, and sometimes they ran close to other trails. And where they ran together people were jubilant, and felt love for their fellow travellers. And they said, "Let us build houses here where so many paths have crossed."

And where they built houses, soon more paths appeared, crossing each other in every direction. So they built more houses. And eventually so many people passed there that they wore down the ground. Where they trod, it became hard to distinguish the delicate signs that marked their separate paths. Yet this did not worry them, for they were able to follow the worn trails instead.

But as settlements grew into towns and towns into cities, those tracks became furrows that rose dust and slid into mud when it rained. Then people paved them over with cobblestones and laid them out straight so they crossed only at right angles. And when these improvements were complete, they had finally forgotten where their paths lay.

Now they had solid options for travel, new possibilities at every corner—the choice was all theirs. But something else of them was sealed under bitumen, stilled, starving next to a million individual trails.