The Mental Labyrinth

I used to be quite good at mazes. I could see where to go and how to get there without much effort or thought. Getting from start to finish was very clear in my mind; intuition simply led me there when I was younger. Lit by imaginary crystal chandeliers–sunlight filtering down through the leaves [komorebi/木漏れ日, Japanese]–the path was covered in soft brown pine needles. My best friend, it kept me safe, calmed me, gave me confidence to travel.

Imagine my surprise, then, when someone sold off part of the land to a developer. Suddenly, the path began to change. Loggers chopped down spruces and evergreens by the hundreds. I didn’t know or recognize where I was anymore. My spatial abilities disappeared like an exhalation–gone, sucked into the void. New buildings and boulevards began popping up everywhere: popcorn kernels jumping in a pot of oil without a lid. Real estate took off, and much like the old-school version of SimCity, I watched as sidewalks replaced grassy fields, neighbors moved in next door, and skyscrapers and restaurants littered the world. My world. Except that I was not in charge of this urban development, and didn’t know who was. No one had asked me. Couldn’t I at least have been paid off?

The mental labyrinth, once an easy, back road cornfield maze and my dear friend, mocked me when I reached “No Outlet” signs, let out an evil cackle when the chandeliers broke, wouldn’t reveal who or what forces insisted on such radical changes. I felt abandoned and alone: Me separated from Myself and I.

As we grow older and wiser, the labyrinth also grows and expands. Emotional layers develop, becoming cloud forests on the path: we squint in the face of heavy water droplets but see no further. What was clear in childhood is no longer so transparent. So we move on, step by step, and trust that “Sometimes our lives have to be completely shaken up, changed, and rearranged to relocate us to the place we’re meant to be.”