Maybe I’ve been feeling a little lost, but this weekend I got intentionally lost in a corn maze. And, yes, I know that’s supposed to happen. As part of our annual fall tradition, my friend Alicia and I voluntarily entered an endless, starchy labyrinth with twists and turns and ups and downs and stalks and stalks of husks that marked out different kernelled, shucked and cobbed paths. Paths that all seemed like good options so it was hard to know which one was right.
We began by turning left. We kept turning left and left and left and sometimes right and somehow stumbled upon one of the maze’s eight embedded trivia questions whose answers would spell out a mystery word. In the shadows of stalks two times taller than we are, we talked about the important and nebulous things that make me feel lost. The future, where to move, where to work, where we’ll start again. We talked about boys and men, unrequited and mutual love. We made wrong turns when we started talking about the places we’ve gone and the places we hope to go. As we passed a tired mom carrying her baby and her burdens in her arms, I winced when I thought of how, probably sooner rather than later, I could be in her position.
I talked about wanting to see the Grand Canyon and how, when I was a silly, stubborn pre-teen, I thought going to see it would be “touristy” and now it’s the place in the U.S. I want to go more than anywhere else. The stalks listened as we talked about how things have changed. They dangled husks in front of our eyes that we brushed aside when we confessed how much there is to see. Especially before we have other people relying on us.
We walked towards the ends and the exits and talked about self-confidence and lack thereof. Of books and words and plotlines and what it means to translate a story from one language to another and to subsequently lose some of the meaning. Of what it means to translate a thought into a sentence and to lose some of what you really want to say.
We found a few clues and kept finding exit number one again and again and again. We looked at the map and thought we might find an answer to a clue in a stalk-formed star. As we ventured forward, my broken, practically soleless adventurer shoes showed their age. This, as other adventures will be for me later in life, was too much. I slipped and slid. I regained my footing just before the mud began to make me stick and then I was stuck. Stuck in the mud and stuck in the thought that I’m more than a little nervous because I don’t know what or where or who is coming next and I want to. I really want to know.
“How many people do you think actually find all of the clues?” Alicia asked as she took her turn leading the way.
“I don’t know … probably two.”
As time became measured not in the number of minutes but in the number of slippery steps, we stopped talking, found clues and passed people who were also searching for answers. We weren’t the only ones. I wasn’t the only one. I’m not the only one.
We turned right and right and right and sometimes left and did I see that ear of corn before or do they all just look the same and is taking this path, ok? Have I been confused before and yes, yes I have. Have I been lost before? Yes, yes, I have. But I’m not the only one, and oh look it’s the last clue.
And there it was. I don’t know if we were the only two who actually finished as I predicted, but we were two who did. In that moment, in the middle of a maze, we had it all figured out. The answer, through slips and twists and laughs and worries and mud and muck and confessions, came.
It was right in front of me.