When I was in kindergarten, my parents brought me back to my old preschool to pick up my younger brother. I vividly remember running across the play area, newly rehabbed, through the throngs of kids at play. A year earlier, as a preschooler, I (and others) had been playfully chased by friends on big wheels. I gleefully found shelter on the windowsill of a playhouse, high above the wheels of my classmates, proud of my escape path. One year later, as a child seeking excitement in a familiar location amongst strange faces, I attempted to engage the current preschoolers in a similar game of cat and mouse. I found myself perched on the windowsill of the playhouse, chased by no one, acutely aware of my game of one. At six years old, perched on that windowsill, I learned in my own way that you can never go back; you can only move forward, a little different, a little changed.
Sometimes, the things that worked for us in the past don’t continue to work. We are not who we were, only what we’ve become in light of those then-existing circumstances. Life is not a stationary room, in which clearly visible doors and windows open interchangeably. It’s a constantly shifting labyrinth, whose paths are shaped by events, decisions, and actions of all shapes and sizes. In that sense, perhaps opportunity doesn’t “knock.” Rather, it is merely a consequence or summation of the prior opportunities taken (or missed).
The purpose of a labyrinth is not to escape – to find an exit; rather, the purpose is reflection. The goal is to reach the center, only to turn around and return from whence you came. Maybe that’s what life’s all about: the uncertainty of the first half is quelled in the second half, where you carry with you the confidence that comes from finding your center.
In that way, you can’t go back to what things were; you can only find solace in returning to a familiar position: a little different, a little changed.
Note: This is a slightly altered, recycled post from the old blog — one of my favorites, and one of the few I still have, as I apparently originally wrote this in my phone notes. It felt like an appropriate time to re-post.