Writing Aside #22.
About five years ago, during a particularly manic phase of my life, we built a big labyrinth behind our house, using only branches and the occasional log. After I laid out each of the 11 basic circles, Wendy would build them up and gently point out minor errors in my design—like how a curve should go behind a particular tree instead in front, or that my idea of true north was wrong on both counts.
A labyrinth guides you to its center and back out along a clearly define path. Whereas a maze throws you in there and wishes you luck. I actually don’t enjoy walking either. The predictability of labyrinths bores me—even pacing a floor has more room for improvisation. While mazes make me claustrophobic.
So I rarely walk ours. After a turn or two, I start picking up newly-fallen branches and using them to define borders that are slowly composting themselves back to earth. But, after a snowstorm, I’m eager to see if I can “find” it under the windblown snow.
The morning after our 20” the other day, I began following the barely detectable curving ridges, tripping over metaphors with virtually every step. Most people find walking labyrinths an opportunity for quiet contemplation. But I gave up on that a long time ago. By the time I completed about 3/4 of the circuits, I had at least three essays outlined in my head, one of which was virtually written.
Then I lost it. I had somehow meandered from circle three to circle four, screwing both of them up in the process. I retraced my steps. Hopped over to a circuit I recognized further along and tried to work my way back. Hopeless. Not only had I lost the true path, I’d lost all three essays.
I went back in the house to have lunch. But couldn’t sit still. So I went back out, diagram in one hand, shovel in the other. Eventually, I figured out where I’d gone wrong. Slowly, step-by-step, inch-by-inch, I tramped the true path and smoothed the broken borders, until the words I knew were there emerged from their snowy oblivion.Jan142011
Powered by Tumblr | Crystalline designed by Sonny T.