Lush hedges in front and beside me, azure sky above, and the gentle crunching of gravel beneath my feet. I am alone, away from it all.
But to me it’s not the serenity it appears. I'm stuck here, and I'm wishing myself out of this world. It was fun for a while, when I started, but now... I'm just tired. I know that if I put my hand on one side I can find my way out, but I don't know which side. One will take me further into the maze, one will take me out, but I can't quite remember which one will do which. Not knowing is frustrating and frightening.
What is a person meant to do in this kind of situation? All I can think is that I have to take a chance. I won't get out by standing still; you can only get through a door by trying to open it, after all.
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It isn't clear whether I'm deep inside or close to the edge of the maze; I'm quite disoriented, to tell the truth, and the sky is completely clear. No clouds to navigate by, no features in this bizarre prison of conspicuously placed wicker chairs and walls of green. There seem to be dead ends everywhere, and I have strange feelings of deja-vu every time I turn a corner. Is that the same seat I passed a minute ago, offering brief respite in exchange for wasted time? Maybe. Maybe not.
Decision time, I suppose. If I go in one general direction and find a dead end, that's no problem. I can always try another direction. It isn't time wasted if I've at least tried, surely?
Trudging on. Hedge after hedge. Dead end after dead end.
It's been a while since I struck out and I have to say I'm not exactly overjoyed to realize I have made it to the middle! I passed a small group of people going in the opposite direction; they seemed to know what direction they wanted to go. I've always found it hard to understand that, really; how do you know you want to go somewhere without having been there first? Why do other people seem so purposeful?
"What path do you choose if you don't know where any of them lead?" I ask a man I suddenly come upon resting on one of the wicker chairs, a book open on his lap. He smiles faintly through a weathered, wrinkled face.
"The one you like the most, obviously." He said it with a look of someone who had seen the light at the end of the tunnel, and I? realised that if he could see the light, it was already there. He opened his book again, apparently unconcerned about how far from the exit he was, so long as the sun bathed the world in warmth, and so long as his book had more pages to turn. I think to him it is just a ride. For him, coming across a dead end and a chair is an opportunity to rest, survey, read of other worlds. Not that scary at all, really. Just another way of looking at things. The setting sun suddenly seems to wrap me up in an orange glow and I am suffused with warmth, and a sudden understanding of what is happening to me.
I round another corner, and another, and another. Not focusing on the end makes things different. I've started to notice things I hadn’t noticed before; patterns in the wickerwork of the chairs, textures in the plants, light rippling through gaps in the foliage, and the intimate kiss of the breeze on my face.
I'd like to get out in the end, but until then, I don't mind being here. If I'm trying to escape then that's enough; just because I haven't managed it yet doesn't mean I never will. It doesn't mean that I can't enjoy the ride, either.