“You are in a twisty maze of passages, all alike.”
There are so many different paths to follow, and they all get tangled up into a knot. Some of them only call with whispers, while others yell and shout loudly to keep my attention. No matter what path I head down, I always end up back in the same tangled knot. There must be a way through, some secret combination of twists and turns that will lead through the maze to the endgoals without abandoning it entirely.
There is the path of children and family. This one is very loud indeed, and it has many branches. There is really only one goal, raising children capable of fending for themselves, thinking critically, and learning anything they need or want to know. There are so many paths that can lead to the same goal, though, as well as many false paths. How do you tell the difference when they all look the same?
There is the path of spirituality. This one has called to me since I was young, and only recently has transformed from a serious of dead-ends to a wide path making steady progress. The goal of this path is to move as far as I can in this life down the road of self-improvement, hopefully discovering and pursuing a life’s work along the way.
There is the path of music, another path I have been on most of my life. So much music, so many ways to sing and play and dance. It is a path followed for sheer enjoyment, much as it would be gratifying to make a name or even just some money for myself along the way. Close to the path of music is the path of crafting, of making things with my hands. Most I do things with fiber: knitting, crocheting, tatting, cross-stitch, nalbinding. These paths are so easy to follow, with wide corridors and a gentle slope, I often gravitate to them when I am just too tired to go any further down any other path.
Speaking of money, there is a path for making money. It calls to me every time I pay a bill or check our budget for the next month, with the goal being to not have to worry anymore, to have no debt and live in the location and house of our choosing. Lately it has taken the form of Uber driving more than anything, but it still presents in different forms: teaching, knitting, software development, any skill that I have that others need. Sometimes it’s hard to tell whether this path is actually moving forward or backward, with the cost and effort sometimes required to traverse it.
There is always, behind all of this, the work of maintaining life and shelter. Cleaning house, making food, shopping for necessities, doctor’s visits, choosing and taking medicines, all of these are required duties. They are like maintaining my equipment as I explore the passages, keeping up my strength, making sure I have enough rope and carabiners and rubber on my shoes. If I don’t do a good enough job on these things, I can’t make any progress down any of the paths. Not only do I need to maintain my own equipment, I need to maintain the equipment of seven other people. Some of them are incapable of doing their own maintenance. Others are becoming capable but are usually unwilling, and then I have to decide whether to continue doing it myself or to leave them behind, possibly failing to bring them down the “family” path to its goal.
Five different paths, plus the maintenance required to follow them. Following one path can lead to moving backwards along another path. Generally only one path can be followed at a time, so time spent on one is time not spent on the others. Maintenance time is never travel time. Somewhere in this maze of twisty passages is some secret code, a special combination of time spent along each path and time spent in maintenance that helps all paths move forward. Maybe there is even a way to find a super-passage, to leave the maze and find the one tunnel that leads to all the goals at once.
It’s dark in here, though.