Last night Jonathan and I went with some friends through a corn maze that reminded me of the Harry Potter movie, only it wasn't as scary because there weren't magical, evil spells being cast on me. I loved the experience. Yelling teenagers and the men that blew cigarette smoke on me couldn't ruin it, and I felt like a kid again, being able to get truly and utterly lost somewhere.

Jonathan (my husband) and I started out with some friends and then split off into couples. In retrospect, we were disappointed we split off. Once we lost track of each other we didn't find each other until the end, and of course, who knew when we would finish? Some people took fifteen minutes, some took an hour. It really didn't depend on your sense of direction, because as we all know, a maze doesn't have to go in one specific direction. We finally learned the second time around what it is that really matters when you're trying to find your way through a maze.

We had wondered around the maze for about twenty minutes, probably. We were fresh and the cold hadn't seeped into our bones yet, and Jonathan especially was propelled by his competitive desire to win (even though I reminded him many times that we weren't racing and that there wasn't a contest.) Still, we forged ahead and got caught up in the excitement, people busting out of the corn to scare people, families laughing, flashlights beaming. There's something about being in a corn maze under the October moon that's surreal and magical. It makes me understand where people got ideas for horror movies like "Children of the Corn."

After about thirty minutes of aimless wandering we found ourselves back at the entrance. But as we looked through our headlamps disoriented, we didn't really know what to do. Finally we settled on going in a different direction, and suddenly, t was like an automatic mode switched on in our heads. We turned and walked into aisles without deliberation. We made decisions without thinking. And before we knew it, we were at the exit! I almost missed it because it was a bridge, and I didn't even realize it was the way out. I just thought it was a scenic overlook and almost kept walking.

We took a breather and since none of our friends were at the entrance, Jonathan was excited and ready to go back in again. But as I stood there, I felt uneasy about it--mostly because I tried to retrace our steps in my head, trying to see if we would be able to find our way through quickly. I realized I hadn't memorized a thing. Apparently I just walked and turned through the maze like a zombie, without ever memorizing the way or making an effort to imprint the route in my head. It was because of that mistake that, when Jonathan finally convinced me to go back inside, caused us to get lost again and take about thirty more minutes getting out the second time. In fact, it was the second time that was probably the hardest. It was colder, I had to go to the bathroom, and we kept running into the same orange-vested security guys who just shook their heads and laughed at us. "We've been through it already!" we tried to tell them. Unfortunately, unlike our friends that found their way out in fifteen minutes their second time, we got ourselves more lost.

I wonder if it's like this for us when we don't live life intentionally. We wander around, make floaty decisions, choose whatever we feel like, and as a result, forget what we learned from our failures and our successes. It makes me think of the importance of imprinting life experiences in our minds as we go new places, meet new people, fail, succeed, and in general, just live. Because we know that we don't know where we're going in life, it's interesting that we don't make more of an effort to reflect on where we've been already and learn as we go.

So what if we had been smart like our friends and imprinted the route in our minds, and made road markers? we could have done it easily a second time. In the same way, if I take seriously all my priorities and decisions in life, if I intentionally go about my passions and directions, if I journal about my experiences or record them in some practical way, there's a greater chance that I will gain from what I've lived, and life wouldn't be a lost cause. What every single generation has searched for since the beginning of time would be mine: wisdom. After all, wisdom is really just a matter of intentional remembering, of living and learning from our mistakes and successes, and not just sitting on a couch taking whatever TV gives us. No, wisdom is about processing, thinking, and feeling. It's about setting aside time to sit in a silent space, maybe in nature, and provoking questions to spend your life answering. When we do that, the maze isn't so scary to get through. It's easy, and more importantly, rewarding.

1 comment:

brooke said...

ok, so i'm in an interesting situation right now. i came to this all-night coffee house to hear some live music, and what do you know but there's no live music. instead, i walked myself into one of the oddest predicaments - tango night. so here i am, sitting amongst the tangoists, watching their flat feet scurry around the floor like an open-mic tango night- anyone who's willing to open their mouth (or dance the tango whether skillfully or not) is welcome. the neon sign is a welcome sight for those with tango in their blood. and so...as i sit here, and watch the "professionals", i think of your comments, amy. about living life intentionally. living life purposefully. i wonder how dancing would look without intentional steps. would there be as many smiles? would there be enjoyment, or just an increased number of bruised, stepped-on toes? i wonder how my sixth grade classroom would run without purposeful conversation and lessons. even more, i wonder how my second year of teaching would've improved had i not made comments on last year's lesson plans like, "didn't work- this sank like a tanker" or "give 20 more minutes for students to complete" or "they totally didn't get this- teach with more specific examples next time". i wonder what jesus' life would've been like without intentional relationships. intentional healing. intentional loving.

i agree with your comments about journaling. i've never been a journaler, but this year, it just seems to fit my needs. so i've been journaling. simply amazing how far i've traveled. successful traveling or not, i can look back and see my footsteps- see where i fell and what caused me to stumble. see where i tried to take shortcuts and it didn't work. i can see that...oh crap...i've been here before...i'm turning in circles!

however, intentional living isn't always the most desireable way to live. momentarily desirable that is. i believe it takes lots of self-discipline to live with purpose, and there are lots of days when spontaneity overcomes my self-discipline to live intentionally. it takes discipline to learn to dance. it takes discipline for me to eat my grean beans every day, and even more discipline to shave my legs regularly. it takes much discipline to love intentionally- love when it's not natural for me to do so. and it takes discipline to learn from those mistakes that feel oh-so-good.

and so, somedays, i saw screw the disciplined art of tango dancing, and let me dance to "love shack" drunk and out of control just to ignore the responsibility that fills my day. sometimes those instinctual desires, some good some bad, take over my intentional living. some of those times, i can look back on my footsteps and see that i stumbled and my lack of intentional living caused an not-so-much needed hiccup in my life. but other times it's in those spontaneous moments when i leap and bound higher and longer and achieve more in life that i ever did living intentionally.

or maybe i'm comparing apples and oranges, and this tango music is disturbing my brain more than i thought.

and i wonder if wisdom isn't so much of intentional remembering, but intentional paying attention. who knows. just my thoughts at 7:49 pm from the saint louis tango club.