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Labyrinths And Life

September 16, 2010

Today let’s talk about introspection and labyrinths. A few weeks ago I went back to Portland and ended up in a place called the Grotto with a cranky baby, a poop diaper, and covered in fresh bug bits when I came across a labyrinth. A sign outside talked about using the labyrinth to clear the mind and think about the journey. The path can be used for many reasons: for meditation, introspection, clarification, religious reason, etc.. I figured that I could use a little clearing of the mind and set forth on the path. Really I didn’t think that anything would come of it, but I walked away with a bit more insight than when I entered:

Perception: Sometimes the further away we think we are from a goal the closer we may actually be and vice versa. They way a labyrinth is set up there is a path that leads to the center. Sometimes the path is close and the end seemed near and then veers away proving that I was further away than I really perceived. How many times has this happened in life? How many times did a goal seem so close, but only slip away? Or how many times did a goal seem so far out of reach only to be closer than I though. This made me wonder about goals that I abandoned because I perceived failure when it was only a turn in the road. A road that I knew that if I kept going on would eventually lead me to where I wanted to be. It also made me think about goals that I once though out of my reach or impossible to accomplish that I walked away from because I perceived them bigger than me? Perception is an interesting beast, but how close to reality is it?

Focus: Getting through the labyrinth was difficult mainly since I was doing some sharp corners with a stroller that pulls to the left a bit. Working with the stroller I tried looking down at the path at my feet, but got never saw the turns ahead of me and was not ready for them when I came to them. So I changed my approach and looked for the end of the path and focused on that I sometimes got to far ahead of myself and got turned around. Just like in life living in the future only can frustrate and living in the moment leaves one unprepared. Finding the balance between the two, looking far enough ahead to see where I was going but yet keeping focus on where I was, got me in a good rhythm and eased the journey.

Road blocks: The stroller was a huge wrench in my plans for getting through the labyrinth, but we all have baggage that we carry with us (not that Bug is bad baggage. That’s not what I mean). It’s how we handle that baggage. I could have set her to the side and walked it by myself, but I hate her being out of my sight in an unknown place or I could have not even tried. I could have used the stroller as an excuse not to walk the path. Although it was challenging once I figured out a good strategy  I went for it. Yes, it took me longer than if I wasn’t walking with a stroller, but I got there.

Realization: Reaching the center of the labyrinth was gratifying. Really, it was almost an “I did it” moment even though it was a small task that I had accomplished. However ever once I got to the center I realized that I had only been through half of my journey. I still needed to make my way out. How symbolic (I did say that I was in a very introspective moment). Here I realized that often times that when I set my sights on a goal I forget what comes after. I forget the why am I doing this? Will what I’m trying to accomplish bring the outcome I want? Or if it is a long goal can I sustain it? How will I keep the outcome moving forward? Most importantly what comes next?

Have you walked a labyrinth? What did you get out of it? Have you ever encountered something that sparked introspection? What was it? What did you learn?

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. September 16, 2010 10:42 am

    I have never walked a real labyrinth… but I feel like every day when I hit some sort of realization it is like turing a corner in a labyrinth and hopefully getting closer to the center!

  2. September 16, 2010 8:05 pm

    I’ve done this once in England and once in America – both times so peaceful and calming (I couldn’t find my way out until I stopped “trying”) – thanks for this loveliness.

  3. September 16, 2010 8:30 pm

    I’ve never been to a labyrinth. It looks amazing, and of course it’s a perfect metaphor for life journeys! Good for you for sticking it out despite the circumstances.

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