View Full Version : The Labyrinth

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R.A. Robertson
11-10-2008, 01:05 PM
Reality is not always probable, or likely.

~ Borges
You find yourself in an unknown space, unable to see.

There is an urge to panic, but you know if you run blindly, you will hit the walls, trip on things, perhaps become entangled in unknowable snares.

Sensibly, you move slowly, but with urgency. Your feet glide across the floor, better to probe for possible irregularities. Your hands are extended, insect feelers delicate and sensitive.

Soon you encounter a wall. Perhaps you press against it, but no more than necessary to confirm its solidity. In your mind there is a goal, a purpose, a desperate need to get out. But forward and backward have no meaning here. There is no map or lodestone. All that is left is to slide along the surface, moving parallel to the wall and the floor.

Looking for an opening.

Eventually, inevitably, you find one. The wall gives way, and once again you find yourself in the midst of a void. The opening you sought has only served to return you to your initial condition of disorientation. This time, however, you know the wall is only an arm's reach away, so you return to it, finding at least a frail security in something definite.

You continue along the way. You discover more openings like the last, but this time you keep contact with the surface of the wall. The path turns one way, and then the other. At times the wall may terminate, and you find you're feeling along the other side, heading in the opposite direction. The angles are odd, the openings are not at regular intervals. This is not the architecture of familiarity.

Continued exploration reveals further complexities. The floor is not always level. Holes and pits are discovered, which may be climbed down into. Stairs and inclines and ladders lead upward. You realize with some anguish that your persistently gentle touch along the wall may have prevented you from finding doors that were closed, but could be opened.

You test, and sure enough, such doors exist. Some open easily, some with more effort. Some may be opened only with great strain, but without knowing what is on the other side, is it worth it? Some doors have latches and catches which first must be found, and in some cases, the right combination must be divined. Now the effort is mental rather than physical, but the question is the same... how much effort is worth an unknowable gain? Some doors are clearly locked, and you have no key, and such doors may as well be walls.

How long have you been here? Moments? Lifetimes?

Such questions may drive you mad. Indeed, things are becoming increasingly surreal. The walls are pushing back. The ceiling presses down on you. Indiscernible features catch at your clothes, your hair, your fear. At times you are pinned to the floor, your body contorted and your limbs twisted.

But always the edifice changes. A small shift or a sudden release, and you are free. At least, you have the liberty to move again. Freedom is always relative in this place.

Do this long enough, and surprisingly, patterns do emerge from the apparent chaos. This is both comforting and frustrating. Have you repeated this passage before? How many times? Is it the same, or only almost the same? Is it sufficiently the same that you can proceed with confidence? Or is it sufficiently the same such that your confidence will cause you to become careless?

Now open your eyes.

Yes, it's true. You were the cause of your own blindness. Look and see the world you're in. Floor beneath you, walls around you, ceiling above. And there at the far end of the corridor, the light of the exit.

Walk outside. Are you relieved? What do you find? A forest? A village? A city with canyons of buildings, rivers of cars, an amazement of people? Have you found your home?

Keep walking. Pick any direction. Go find something familiar, or go look for something new. Wherever you go, a fearful feeling persists. You'd like to think that after what you've been through, this terrible premonition of dread is just post-traumatic stress disorder. But deep down inside, you know the truth...

It's not post- anything.

Superficially, the environments seem very different. Different sounds, different colors, smells, textures... infinite forms. Interactions with people. Conversations and conventions and collaborations and conspiracies. You want to tell them where you've been, and you want to warn them. But look in their eyes, and you know they've all been through it. Maybe they're going through it now. Maybe they know it, maybe they don't... want to.

Because, just like them, no matter what you do, you can't be sure you've actually left the place. After the crazy design, after the crazy shifting and sometimes hostile geometries, you can't tell if this new world of freedom is just one more deception. It may be nothing more than a fantastic trompe l'oeil. And everywhere underneath it all there is the persistent pervasive smell of the Minotaur's breath.

You find yourself in an unknowable space, unable to trust.

But you've learned not to panic. You've learned not to run blindly. You've learned to explore. You've learned to recognize patterns while recognizing each instance as unique. You've seen that many of the tricks of the eye can delight, so you take joy in them even as they pass. And if others seem just as bewildered as you, you've learned that even a companionship of lost souls can make the exploration better. It really doesn't matter if they're part of the puzzle or not, because by now, surely you are too.Do you want to see what human eyes have never seen? Look at the moon.
Do you want to hear what ears have never heard? Listen to the bird's cry.
Do you want to touch what hands have never touched? Touch the earth.
Verily I say that God is about to create the world.

~ Borges
Ross Robertson
Still Point Aikido Systems
Honmatsu Aikido
Austin TX, USA

www.stillpointaikido.com (http://www.stillpointaikido.com)

Tim Lee
11-16-2008, 06:28 PM
Liked this one in particular.... Freedom from the stress of the maze is through a door or window. Often they are overlooked. But to those with the gift of seeing they are obvious. Recognizing them and having the courage to enter is the escape from the chaos. Pushing on a wall can make it swing like a door and open like a window. Enter without competing, win but cause no one to lose. I hear an echo..

Sharon Seymour
12-18-2008, 09:46 AM
Thank you. This resonates deeply right now. There comes a point in practice when the idea of 'on the mat/off the mat' has no meaning. It has been a time of dizzying disorientation as every perspective shifts and I wonder if there is anyone else in this peculiar universe. Good to be reminded that, as always, there is if I open my eyes and accept this new view.