What is the way out of your life’s maze?
Have you ever been through a corn maze? If not, make it a point of going in the fall. Most of them have a map of the maze at the entrance. Good luck. Try remembering all the details about the nooks and crannies, and all the little dead ends, clues, and of course the finish. If you are slick enough you may even think of employing the sneaky tactic of snapping a picture of the map (not that I would know anything about that). Guess what, it all does not really help. A maze is a maze and once you are in, it all becomes a mess – just like real life.
Leave it up to me chaperoning a maze trip of my daughter’s school class. Here we were, five 5th graders and I the adult with a plan. So I thought. It must have been due to a great wet spring and summer, but my I had never seen 10 feet tall corn before. We felt like Harry Potter going through a dark and super dense maze. I’ll spare you the little details, but it was pretty interesting as I no idea how short a time it would take striking fear and panic into the boys and girls. Additionally, they apparently had not heeded our advice of hitting the restroom before entering the maze. It took us almost two hours to get out of this thing. Did I mention that this was during the middle of a super sunny fall day in 95 degree and plenty of humidity? What a mess we were and we DID have a map that had been handed to us prior to going on our trip. Yikes. It reminded me so much of many phases of my life of dead ends, struggle, confusion, frustration, hopelessness, small victories, hitting finish lines, and all the small and big victories.
If the basic maze set up was not enough already, no matter how well we prepare, life hits us hard sometimes with all kinds of surprises. What can we do? The lessons learned during the maze trip were plentiful and I invite you generating your own little cheat sheet:
- Plan ahead as much as you can. Do not ignore the power of a map and remember to memorize it well.
- Stop and turn back if you have to. Sometimes backing up and retracing your steps is the best thing you can do to get ahead.
- When you are stuck be creative in seeking help. Typically, you are rarely ever alone – even in a maze there are many other folks who are stuck just like you. Don’t be shy and ask for help and perhaps you get to the finish line first.
- Do not panic just because you don’t know the way. Repeating and retracing a few times will only hone your skills remembering what works and what doesn’t.
- Make good use of all your senses. Be curious and lift up your head. Look at the sun. Orient and align yourself with it and get a sense where you are headed.
- Celebrate small successes. Did you find another clue? Great. Gather the troops and celebrate the achievement with them.
- Plan and map out your next goals. Make them achievable and tell each other what you will do when you get there. It does wonders for your morale.
- Have an emergency plan at hand. Plan B comes in really handy when it gets too messy to handle. Take a flag or flare with you. Use it wisely, but use it when you have to and do not be afraid. No need to be a hero for the wrong reasons.
- Who said that you had to enter the maze in the first place? That is a choice. Your choice. Don’t do it if it doesn’t feel right to you.
Mazes do not have to be such a challenge. With a little preparation and planning ahead it is possible to have a boat load of fun. It actually is quite satisfying completing the whole thing, get out, and have a little apple cider and a hot dog in celebration of the achievement – exactly like how life ought to be. It may be a mess and really difficult at times, but we do manage to get out and ahead anyway.