Wednesday, August 03, 2005

The Labyrinth

This post is for anyone who has ever had doubts, but especially for my friend Wil on the occasion of her first half ironman triathlon this weekend.

It was a warm spring afternoon and Dan and I were wandering the streets of Old Town Santa Fe. We had browsed a few shops, checked out the Indians' wares in front of the historic governor's palace and were contemplating our next adventure in that lazy way one does while vacationing, as ready to bumble into something as to make it happen.

We stopped at St. Michael's so Dan could sit down and rest for a moment and to my delight I saw they had something new out front-- a labyrinth! I handed off my purse to Dan, found the starting point and jumped in. The path was just a narrow tracing of granite, lighter than the stone around it, and it wandered back and forth, sometimes tracing quarter-circles, sometimes describing almost the entire outer perimeter before meandering back in toward the center then suddenly leaping backwards and sideways, shunting me off in a different direction. The turns were tight little switchbacks, often reversing themselves and doubling back the way I had come. It had all seemed fairly straightforward from the outside, but of course once I was on the path, it took all my concentration merely to remain on course and not blunder onto the path right next to it where I would surely wander around endlessly with no hope of reaching my goal.

After awhile the meandering paths began to all look the same. It seemed impossible that I hadn't yet reached the center. From the outside, only a few quick strides would've taken me to the middle if I had been willing to cheat the process. Doing it the right way took longer.

The path turned yet again and suddenly all was confusion. My steps faltered. I paused and looked around. How could this be? A moment ago it seemed I was almost there and now I was farther away than ever! My mind raced. Had I made a mistake on one of those switchbacks? Was I on the right path? Did the path even lead to the center at all?

For a moment, I doubted.

But no, I had to be on the right track. I had been paying close attention, hadn't I?

So with a little frown, I continued. And only a few steps later, there I was, goal attained, stepping into the center. I turned to Dan with a big smile and raised my arms in victory.

They say the labyrinth is a metaphor for many of life's journeys. How many times have we doubted the path we're on, questioned our ability to stay the course, wondered if we're on the right road at all? And yet it is just when it seems we've made a mistake and all our effort has been in vain, that we can't let our doubts overcome our resolve. The path is the right one, our effort is good and the goal is closer than we could possibly imagine.

Never doubt your ability. Never give up.

Get well and stay the course at Steelhead, Wil!

Good luck, Shelley and Vertical Man!

And good luck to all of you, Friends, as you journey down life's confusing paths.


Flatman said...

What a great post! Perfectly timed, I'd say...thanks!

Shelley said...

Thanks!!!! Beautiful post!!!

Wil said...

You are an amazing person and know just what to say to make things stick in my head. I'll take this with me out there, mile 40 on the bike begins the prozac patch for me, but now I'll be able to find me way.

Thank you, you're an incredible friend.

Kyle said...

The labyrinth has only one path so there are no tricks to it and no dead ends. The path winds throughout and becomes a mirror for where we are in our lives. It touches our sorrows and releases our joys. Walk it with an open mind and an open heart.

Vertical Man said...

A very belated thanks for your good wishes! They meant a lot.