I've been trying to learn GR and I've been back and forth through Schutz's first course book. I think I understand the basic principals, but one thing still eludes me: a traveler in free fall travels along the geodesic, the path of longest proper time. If the path between two points passes through a strong gravitational field, it should take longer (more ticks on the traveler's clock) than it would have if the field had not been in the path. But as the traveler passes through the field, gravitational time dilation makes their clock show down (fewer ticks on the traveler's clock). Do these two effects compete against each other or am I missing something? Somehow I got it in my head that gravitational time dilation would somehow _cause_ the geodesic to have the longest proper time, but that doesn't seem to work. Please help straighten me out.