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discipline of the maze

Now I know this doesn’t happen to anyone else. You’re just walking along in life and everything seems ok and then something happens or someone says something and like throwing the switch on an electric chair, your world is totally and completely rocked and not in a good way. You panic and freak. Or you begin to feel like someone is scooping out your heart with that spork thing fast food joints hand out in place of useful utensils.

How people respond to pressure is a fascinating topic to me – whether they snap and freak out or rise up and do something they never thought they could or maybe they just cower and hide – and all the many variations among those things.

There are few who stay completely calm and rational. It is a personal goal of mine to respond to everything evenly and accept openly every struggle of life. I’m saying this with one finger on the nuke the world button, mind you. But it’s good to have goals.

Coping mechanisms I’ve read about or been told to use by various counselors of various degrees of useful, much like sporks, include the ole counting to ten method (spork), keeping a journal (um, see this blog?), finding a hobby (um, see this blog?) and screaming at small puppies.

The best advice I’ve read about and then practiced and continue to practice is to walk a maze. Now before you laugh, hear me out.

It’s an “ancient” tradition, mazes. they are designed to engage and unsettle you. They force you deeper in and turn you about so your sense of direction is challenged.

I’ve seen prayer mazes that are basically tight spirals and you are supposed to follow the path contemplating whatever it is you are trying to figure out and if you come to the center and still don’t have an answer, you start over.

Then there are those mazes that simply take your mind off your problems, and in eastern thought it is said that when you completely remove the problem from your mind, the answer will appear, and by the time you exit the maze, you will know what to do.

I have to admit that it sounds nutty. But honestly, it has worked, in varying degrees of success, for me. There’s something about living in the moment in a maze. You lose track of the outside world and get lost in the confines of the space you’re in. You can’t see what’s ahead or on the other side, and all you can do is move forward. Or at times, retrace your steps to where you had to make a choice and figure out which way you should have gone. And if the maze is any good, you have no way of knowing which will lead to the center, but it’s in the journey where you find out what you’re made of, how you make decisions, and how much fun you are going to have whether you’re actually trying to or not.

I miss trail running for these reasons. I miss running up Mount Sanitas in Boulder where all you can do is concentrate on getting one foot in front of the other and there is nothing in the world but your breathing and your 500 pound legs on the way up which miraculously turn into jello on the way back down. There’s something to be said for the very physical nature of decision making and being able to break down emotional turmoil into the act of moving and sweating and wanting to DIE but knowing you have to press on. And you come to love the burning and the feeling of nearly passing out because you know you’re making progress. And this translates to life. I find great beauty in creating order out of chaos, working out turmoil or sorrow, getting lost in the hedges and finding my way back out. And knowing that even the darkest night will turn into morning.

All this said, I need to find more mazes in the area…


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