Last night we attended an event at a popular pumpkin patch. This place is not just a field with a bunch of pumpkins spread out; it’s more like an amusement park with train rides, hayrides, a giant pumpkin pyramid, pumpkin blaster guns, educational children’s activities, snack bars, and more. While the rest of the crowd of 300 was chatting, drinking, and listening to an oldies band, our group of family and friends decided to check out the corn maze (the one designed for adults – of course – no kiddie contests for us!).
My son and daughter-in-law recalled how they had spent 45 minutes in last year’s incarnation, trying to find their way out. But as we set out along the straight, one-lane path, I thought it must be different this year because this was just a wandering walkway, with no side shoots or detours for the first many lengths. My friend even commented that they must have people popping out or ghosts wielding scythes when it’s open to the public because otherwise, as it is, it didn’t seem exciting or challenging.
Lesson #1 – don’t assume anything!
We ambled along further, and there began to be small off-shoots that were obvious dead-ends, and other spots where the path forked but then rejoined again after passing a small island of corn stalks in the middle. Again, I thought… this is so easy!!!
Lesson #2 – don’t get overconfident!
Soon there were more optional trails heading off to the right or left, and this time we had to go further to discover if they were a dead end or actually a new route. Before I knew it, our group of nine was split up onto three different sections of the maze, and even though we could hear each other, there was no way of knowing how to reconnect… and no way of being sure which of us (if any) was on the right path.
Lesson #3 – don’t be a follower!
By this time I was tired. I hadn’t worn hiking shoes, and I’d been on a liquid fast for the better part of a week. Although I felt fine during normal activities, this walkabout was causing me to expend more energy than I’d expected. Deep in the middle of this tangle of tall stalks, I realized that its footprint was huge. Maybe the children’s maze would have been plenty entertaining after all. But now I was in it, and I was alone. I didn’t mind that part, because I knew the others didn’t have an overhead map or special insight that would guide them magically out. Besides, I have always enjoyed going my own way and not following in others’ footsteps.
Lesson #4 – evaluate the situation!
So I decided to try to find my way back to the original path that we came in, rather than continue to go long distances that I thought would lead me out, only to be wound around in the opposite direction of my goal. Part of me wanted to just lie down and wait for someone to appear and show me the way… but I have been known to have allergic reactions to hay, and the ground was spread thickly with it. Another part wanted to call out and ask for help, or to break through the fine mesh that was lining the soaring corn walls and make my escape by crawling between the rows on my hands and knees. I had the opportunity to revisit (and laugh at) my old fear patterns when I began to imagine that I’d be lost for hours, until it got very dark and the owners had to send out a search party and a stretcher to carry my worn-out body to safety. But then I simply allowed myself to move where I felt guided to go, and soon I recognized the main walkway. When I spied a piece of black plastic that I had noticed on the way in, I knew it wouldn’t be long before I was out in the open space.
Lesson #5 – keep calm, carry on… and listen to your inner wisdom!
As I approached the opening, I heard my former companions on the path talking about me, and my son said casually: “We’ll give her 15 minutes and if she’s not out by then, we’ll go looking for her.” They had just found their way out via the three exit paths that the webmaster had designed, and they had no idea that I was about to emerge myself. I sauntered out and rejoined the group without fanfare.
A few minutes later, back in the dining area, my little grandson suddenly noticed I was there, and said “Where were you Oma? We were looking all over for you!” I told him I had taken a different path, and that all was well since we were together again. Later, when he looked across the aisle at me and said “I love you Oma,” I was glad I made the choice to master the maze and enjoy the moment.
Lesson #6 – everything works out in the end!