Friday, September 23, 2011

Haymaze Yourself

Practicing Spontaneity

After my latest self-realization lunch in the valley, I had set my mind on going to Half Moon Bay for a sunny dip in the ocean. It was a hot summer day, with not a hint of cloud or fog in any direction. I expected a hot beach and a cool ocean, just over the mountain. And lo and behold, as I get over the mountain, I had that all-too-familiar sinking feeling -- the coast was fogged out. Everywhere the eye could see, where there was beach, there was fog hovering over, a silent, menacing big brother.

So I drove 15 miles south looking for a hole in the fog wall, all the while, thinking "what a waste of time…" (meanwhile I have no job, nowhere to be) and lo and behold a giant rusty gorilla beckons from the side of the road. Seeing nothing but endless fog, I turned around, my dreams dashed, sad about wasted gas, saw a rusty gorilla, worried about my time and money, and thought "I need to get back as soon as possible, so I can…"


Fighting my disconsolate NEED to get home, I finally had the sense to pull over, and think about how I could maybe just take a look. Maybe just a quick peak. I circled around it, getting there via a back road, and then I realize, IT'S A MAZE. It's a pumpkin farm with rusty minotaurs, and right in the middle is a giant, friggin MAZE. This guy piled up haystacks 8 feet tall, for thousands of yards of labyrinthine turns.

And, I realized, here's my chance to practice all this spontaneous self-realization mumbo jumbo I've been talking. Here's a chance to let go of the logical mind for a bit, and go with the gut. A walking meditation. At each intersection of the maze, while my mind had already come up with a "right" or "left", I just asked my hands - "which way should I go?" I felt a relief and a spontaneity mixed with an ever-present need to justify and rationalize. What's the point of the maze anyway, is it to finish it as fast as possible? Is this a contest? Who are you competing with? And why? And don't you want to get your $8 worth?

A maze is your life, your brain, and your realization. The point is to follow many paths that will lead to dead-ends, to mix logic and instinct in such a way that you are wholer for each step, for each passage way. To learn the contours of the limits of your body and this life. To realize the appropriate place for luck and spontaneity in your life, which can sometimes serve you better than memory and reason. To close your eyes for a time, as I did, that you can see with your other senses. To be continuously disappointed and surprised by the simple beauty of it's construction. To marvel at the awe of the creator.

In this case, the creator (Chris) is a Greek guy. He swears, as does his wife, that he starts building the maze with absolutely no plan, randomly piling hay. He has no idea how it has turned out until the aerial shot (due in two weeks) comes back as a postcard he shows visitors. He's gotten better and better each year, and I think it was awesome -- took me at least 20 minutes to get through the first time with my mix of serendipity and repressed logician.

When I told him I quit my job and had worked in 10 jobs before, he said, "You're like me, you get bored easy. Here, I never get bored. One day, we are making a maze, the next harvesting pumpkins, the next, hosting a school-ful of kids going through our maze, the next, having a gladiator exhibition. By the way, you should promote us! You make a little money, I make a little money…" (Aside: Go immigrant entrepreneurialism!)

And I thought, why not? Not for money, but as a contest (notice logical inconsistency above) with myself. How many thousands of people can I drive to this cool out-of-the-way place (called Arata Pumpkin Farm) I love? Why not have this be the first of a thousand random activities to get me closer to my destiny? When you go there, say hello for me. And if he can't remember who I am, tell him the Indian guy with long hair and beard sent you.

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