Is Life A Labyrinth Or A Maze?

By Minji

"If life is indeed more like a labyrinth, it would be a shame to creep too cautiously or stop and retreat thinking that we’re at a dead end…that end point could actually turn out to be another fabulous beginning!"  

Do you think life is more like a labyrinth or a maze? I’ve recently been thinking more and more about this age-old philosophical question.  Definitely not a black and white answer and probably more like shades of grade, right? Interestingly enough, I find that for me, the pendulum is swinging on this one and my answer is gradually changing from maze to labyrinth.

Have you ever tried walking a labyrinth?  It’s different from a maze in that it has no dead ends.  Assuming you continue on, everyone will inevitably get to the center, the ultimate end point.  On the other hand, with a maze, depending on the decisions you make at each cross road, you could encounter a dead end and never make it out.  

Therefore, with a maze, it’s critical that you make the right choice at each turning point.  Depending on the decision you make, you could end up in vastly contrasting places.  A labyrinth is different in that as long as you continue down the path you will never truly get lost. 

Despite the fact that at some points where your visibility is limited, you might not be able to see where you’re going, you’ll get there. So if you surrender to the process and go with the flow, you’ll end up at the one and only destination you were meant to be.  

In the modern world and especially in western culture, we are taught early on to view life as a maze.  We are encouraged to take charge of life – set goals and strive to achieve them.  If you’re capable and brave enough, you will knock down doors and break barriers to create a happy ending for yourself.  At the same time, if you don’t get your act together and make the wrong choices, you could bump into a dead end with no escape.  It’s a very solitary perspective and life ultimately comes down to you. 

Most of my life, I’ve adopted this “maze” approach to life.  It’s been exhilarating to think that the sky’s the limit and I own my destiny.  However, there have also been times where I feel incredibly anxious and worry that my life could take the wrong turn and end up in shambles. 

As time goes by, I’m seeing the value of thinking of life more as a labyrinth.  Not to say that we should all just relax and not work for things anymore.  More in the sense that we shouldn’t forget our inherent connection to others and the universe and embrace the natural flow of things.  

It’s about appreciating the harmony and connectivity of life and feeling supported by something bigger than self, rather than viewing life as a solitary journey to aggressively power through.  As Laozi famously said, “When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be.”        

As long as we don’t take drastic measures to deviate from the path and appreciate the experience of diligently moving forward with ease and confidence, perhaps we would all have a better journey. 

If life is indeed more like a labyrinth, it would be a shame to creep too cautiously or stop and retreat thinking that we’re at a dead end…that end point could  actually turn out to be another fabulous beginning!