Saturday, August 7, 2010

The Labyrinth

My first day in San Francisco, Minima took me to one of my favorite places I have ever been in my life. It is a labyrinth made of stones near the ocean. Here are some photos of the labyrinth and the area around it:

Minima told me to think of something that had been burdening or haunting me. Think of it all the way to the center of the labyrinth, not saying a word, and then leave that thing there at the center. Feel your soul unburdening as you follow the path out. Feel that thing gone from you...

Enter the labyrinth. The wind is so strong that I feel I'm going to fall over the cliff's edge as I follow the outer twists of the path. The wind shouts at me that I must be present in this moment. Its fingers grab at my hair, promising to blow away the things haunting me. I watch my black shoes turning gray from the path's dust. The entire world seems gray... the clouds, the ocean, the rocks, my burdens. There is something I need to leave at the center of the labyrinth, and I worry that I might not be ready. Perhaps two minutes have passed, and I have no idea how soon I'll reach the center. The path teases, draws near the center, than doubles back toward the outer edges. Among the rocks, a ladybug and then a dead bee bring sudden flashes of color. The sight of the bee puts The Dancing Bear song in my head... "The honey from the bee, the shellfish from the sea, the earth, the wind, a girl, someone to share these things with me..." A shriveled, browning leaf of Lady's Mantle has been forcefully blown against one of the labyrinth's rocks. Five rusted links of a broken chain look like long forgotten summers in the dust. The wind is still working its harsh magic, blowing every cell in my body free of burdens, or so I like to think. I reach the center, but my mind has wandered, and I only do a half-ass job of leaving my burdens there. I linger there just for the few seconds it takes to turn around, and I begin walking back out. It is only a few minutes later, when Minima (who has been walking a ways behind me) reaches the center that I realize that I should have paused longer. Minima stands solemn and unmoving, and I realize that the center is where something like prayer occurs. As I work my way back out of the labyrinth, I know without a doubt that I have only partially rid myself of the thing haunting me.

I think I am going to need to build a labyrinth in Seattle to rid myself of it completely.


  1. I'd love to have somewhere to leave my burden, but I never knew a place like this existed. It looks like the perfect neutral setting where you can let everything go.

  2. I was introduced to the labyrinth featured in this post by Tanya of Tanya Madoff Designs. It was also through Tanya that I found out there are labyrinths all over the place, you just have to find them. Here's an amazing link taking a look at the outdoor labyrinths that can be found in Seattle:

  3. "With a broom and ladder and pale the darkened walls I scale and far and high I see a patch of sky"