Many people describe labyrinths and mazes synonymously. But in actuality they are very different. A maze is a puzzle. A race. A problem to solve. The objective is to successfully it’s over. You can move on to another one if you’d like, or never solve another maze again, but that maze is complete. A labyrinth, however is not a puzzle. It’s not a race, and there certainly isn’t any right answer. Instead, it is a journey. A journey of self-discovery, in where throughout the labyrinth you stop to analyze or reflect on certain aspects of your life. The same labyrinth can take two people very different lengths of time to complete, and neither won nor lost for doing so. The length of time is determined by how much time you choose to reflect, and how relevant the points of reflection are to your current time of life. The labyrinth is only complete because you reach the end, not because you achieved it, and the learning from the labyrinth should transcend the time spent in it. It is meant to be a piece of learning that you take with you, reflecting back on it when necessary for weeks, months, or years later.
Our current world and the society we are meant to thrive in, too often has us navigating our professional and personal lives as a maze. We simply must get things done as quickly and efficiently as possible, checking things off lists, and moving on to the next item. How many times have you qualified you day by saying, “today was a good day, I got a lot done”? What we should be doing is spending more of our time on this earth navigating our days as a labyrinth – being in the moment, having gratitude for the moment, trying to extend moments as long as possible by being present. We should be reflecting on our day, at least at the end of it, if not multiple times during it, as special or teachable moments present themselves. We should be learning from our experience instead of simply moving on from them. The greatest but most often over-looked teacher is experience. Everyday presents a wealth of knowledge through experience that we either choose to learn from or ignore. How may times have you qualified you day by saying, “today was a good day, I learned a lot” or qualified your day as long, but in a positive way?
As one final point of context, we’ve heard the cliche “it’s not how many times we get knocked down, it’s how many times we get back up”. Over the years I’ve found this to be a very unproductive cliche. The truth is, today no one really cares how many times you get back up. Resilience is important, but only if you have knowledge to go with it. There’s just too much competition out there – too many people who have grit, resilience, and talent in spades. So instead, when we do get knocked down, we need to spend more time on the ground, analyzing how we got there in the first place. Think about, talk about, and get comfortable with your failures, so that when you do get back up, you’re a harder, smarter, more talented target to knock down.
It is difficult to make each day a labyrinth, but it’s really easy to make each day a maze. Spend more time reflecting.