There was a period of about seven years in my 20s when I thought I knew what I was doing with my life. I had plans and goals. I was doing things that moved me along a clear path. I put one foot in front of the other, I did my work well, and there was no reason to think that something was going to throw me completely off that path and send me into some strange journey into the unknown. It’s not that I knew the future exactly. It’s just that I knew the basic shape of what I was doing, and things followed a fairly predictable pattern. That changed for me completely by 2000, and I’ve never had the same long-lived sense of surety again. Instead of having a clear path through the forest, I’ve been walking among the trees with lots of different places to tread and no clear right or wrong direction except when I hit an obstacle that forces me to turn aside.
This new path is not so clear and obvious as the last, and its purpose is often unclear to me, but it seems as if unseen walls keep me in check. My life is no longer guided by an end goal. There is no one clear-cut definition of success on this path. Instead I meet each new fork in the road with my sense of what is important to me, with optimism and a desire to do a certain type of thing with my life. There are victories and defeats, but nothing seems permanent besides the lessons. There is no straight line, and what I expect to happen is rarely what actually occurs. This is not so much a path from point A to point B as it is a labyrinth.
A labyrinth is not a maze. You don’t walk through a labyrinth just to get from one place to the other successfully. You walk the labyrinth to meditate, to encounter yourself and your gods, to meet challenges and overcome them, to become something or someone you weren’t when you wandered in.
I’ve gotten quite tired of this labyrinth. I’m exhausted from literally not knowing where I will be next. More than once I’ve left a place sure that I’d be back there in 2 weeks or a month, yet I still haven’t returned. I know that this labyrinth will bring me back there again, eventually; just not when I thought it would. I have railed against Spirit for not “letting” me pick a straight road and walk it, but I know full well that it is my own list of priorities that keeps me here in the labyrinth. I value a spiritual path far more than a common one. I value my opportunities to create ripples of positive change more than the opportunity to create a calm and stable life for myself.
What I’m wondering now, though, is if there is a way for me to walk out of the labyrinth and bring my priorities with me on a new path. Can I dream a new goal? Can I pick a straight line and walk it deliberately, stepping off the path for moments if needed, but always coming back to it quickly?
Often times I’ve thought of the state I live in as a state of Zen. Gusts of wind hit me and I flow with them. If I fall into a river, I swim to the center to let the water take me where it will rather than fighting the current to reach lang again. But this is the Zen of a leaf that has been blown off of its tree. Or maybe a seedpod. Can I, like a seedpod, find good soil to sink into, grow roots and stand firm? Can I grow tall and strong, bringing my spirituality and the benefits of my Being to one place? Can any patch of soil be called My Place?
I don’t know. I used to be afraid to buy furniture because it’s so expensive and such a hassle to get rid of when it’s time to move. I got myself down to less than 40kg of personal possessions. If I grow roots and bark, I’ll surely start to pick up more mass again. Maybe that’s not so bad if I am not owned by my possessions, but choose them carefully and with intent. If I am not anchored by the things I have but by the people I am connected to and the land where I sink my roots.
Maybe I don’t need to leave the labyrinth at all. Maybe I just need to pick a place in it and bury myself deep into the soil so that I can grow right where I stand.