Maze Man

Dear Anonymous,

It has been a long time since we last spoke and may be ages before we speak again.  It's true that you are my soul mate, but it's better for us both that I've left.  And now that I'm gone, I thought I'd write you this brief letter to document this time, shall we ever meet again.  If not, so be it, for whatever it's worth.  I know now there is a spirit that connects us which transcends the physical.

The reasons for my leaving Boston were many and revolved around dependencies I longed to rid myself of. However, it would be months before I was truly alone, trying desperately to unbind myself from the past and uncertainty of the future.  This nostalgic urge repeated itself multiple times on my journey as I found myself slipping into my old ways, struggling to exist in the present.  I have chosen to delete those scenes from this miniature memoir as those departures presented little meaning for me.  So consider this edited as I wish I could somehow edit out some mistakes from my own life.  But not all of them, for they are the things that have made me who I am today.  I only want you to think the best of me.  And I want to be good.

Last Winter I found myself in a cheap Howard Johnson's motel on the side of a highway in Tucson, Arizona.  Do you remember how I often shared my dreams of living out in the desert?  I was intent now to live out this fantasy.  Yet when I arrived, alone, without any friends and without a plan, I was feeling like a child who has run away from home.  Listening to the cars rushing by and watching, but not paying attention to, infomercials at 2 a.m.   I couldn't sleep because I felt a little sad, a little lost and a bit anxious for the next chapter of my life to begin.

It was not long before I found the ideal location for my new place of residence.  It was a small guest house across the street from a park with towering palm trees and clear views of the Catalina mountains.  The homes surrounding the park were landscaped with plant life that all seemed exotic to me including every variety of cacti that almost made me feel as though I had landed on another planet.  The room itself was tiny but had enough space to fit a queen size bed, along with my desk (for drawing) and chair.  There was also a small kitchenette with a tiny refrigerator and also a shower that I had to sort of squeeze into.  I immediately felt comfortable in this small space, mostly because it was easy to decorate and to clean. It quickly felt like it was my own.  Additionally, I had a small yard out back that included an outdoor washing machine and a storage shed that I emptied the contents of my car into after my cross country journey.

While it was snowing in Boston, the weather in Tucson was just about perfect.  Clear skies were the norm here and at night I would sit on a plastic chair in my fenced off yard and admire the stars.  Usually, around 1 a.m., I would put on my shorts and take a run through this quiet neighborhood taking laps around the vacant park.  It felt safe here, the sky seemed bigger than I had ever seen it before and it filled me with a sense of peace.  Still, I was unsure if I came out here to be rejuvenated or to die.  My heart felt broken and I was not sure I was ready to let anyone in again for a long time coming.  There was a strength in solitude.  I knew that I couldn't love anyone else again until I learned to love myself. The running forced my heart to beat faster.  I longed to feel it, to feel something, anything.  To be alive.

I had an offbeat goal and spent days working on my book.  It seems a simple task now that it is near complete.  Perhaps the hardest part was not doubting myself.  Frequent trips to the library where I checked out audio books and videos to keep my mind occupied while I drew kept me grounded in my past life as a librarian.  Still, I knew too much time alone in my small hideaway was not healthy and I tried to let sunshine do its part.  I wanted to explore this foreign landscape.  Favorite spots included Sabino Canyon where I would walk or hike for several miles several times a week.  Doing this at sunset proved dangerous at times, as I encountered both a coyote and mountain lion.  Both times I survived unscathed and happy for the experience.  I would also frequent Mt. Lemmon via a treacherous and exhilarating windy drive that always left me breathless.  I especially enjoyed taking the trip early in the morning to get a clear view of the stars over the staggering cliffs and then witness the most startling and colorful sunrises I had ever witnessed.  More dramatic desert scenery was seen on my drives down to Bisbee.  That's an old mining town near the Mexican border that fulfilled my need to find a hippy town void of chain stores and commercialism.  It's a near perfect place, with beautiful hills, mines, staggering gulches and artwork just about everywhere you look.  At night, the town takes on an old-fashioned eeriness that is like heaven viewed through an old movie camera lens. If I was brave enough I would've packed up, sold my car and made that place my new home.  But for now, living off the charts was not really in the cards.  I knew that once I reestablished myself, I would be on the hunt again for a career and a more direct path in this disjointed and delayed chapter of my adult life.

I had mixed feelings about Tucson.  On the one hand, it felt like the suburbia of my youth.  And then there was the downtown that I couldn't figure out how to make sense of.  It was far smaller than any city I had ever frequented.  I attempted to infiltrate it but the bars were too lonely, I always ended up drinking by myself with no spectacle to watch.  I knew I did not come here to live in a small city, participating in night life was not my plan at this point.  I somehow felt as though this would be a disappointment.  I needed to breathe again, to feel small under the stars and to believe.  Even the tiny city lights of Tucson were too much.  I wanted to be away and my quaint neighborhood on the outskirts provided a refuge.  Long walks at night kept me in touch with nature and under the stars I forced myself to believe again.  To believe in God without subscribing to a religion.  To believe in myself.  How do I describe this without sounding too dramatic?  To reach a point of desperation where I could stop wishing for things and instead just be thankful.  You had your way and this was mine.

West of Tucson, out in the Sonoran Desert is the Tohono O'Odham reservation which is also the home of Kitt's Peak Observatory.  While visiting one evening I discovered a drawing of a unicursal labyrinth used by this tribe.  It's called The Man In The Maze and the symbol spoke to me as a new philosophy for which I should adopt in living my life.  The basic premise is that no matter how hard or long the road taken, the right choices will lead us to a point of harmony with all things.  There are four entrances to the mazes which represent different stages in life: childhood, adolescence, adulthood, and old age.  At the center of the maze there is a circle which either stands for death, the realization of identity or eternity.  Perhaps all three of these things ultimately mean the same thing.  It is there that one can reunite with the Creator.  To see life as both a big and small circle that may be inverted upon itself.   And I loved how this epicenter of science at Kitt's Peak co-mingled with these ancient Native- American traditions.  For that is how I see the stars and the universe.  The infinitely large versus the infinitely small sucked in upon itself like the mysterious black hole or the incredible shrinking man.  Each man has has his own maze and each maze is life itself.  The individual's relationship with God and with life itself, for we are all creators.

Some other things happened during my two month stay and more pages of my book got drawn.  I slept, watched TV and did laundry.  But ultimately, I discovered what I needed to find.  It was out there in the desert, it was high above Kitt's Peak.   And after finding it, I knew it was time to leave.

I have since departed and now am residing by chance, more than luck, in California on the next part of my journey.  It took a while, but I am ready now.  To re-engage, to be social again and to approach life with both abandon and joy.  To live in the moment.  Often I am unsure about the future, my future, but this sense of desperation lends itself to humor.  And I laugh at myself.  For I am in control.  I am a librarian.  I am an artist.  There is so much love within me.  I want to share and learn and give.  I am no longer the patient.  Instead, I relate to the experienced doctor who smirks at almost having seen it all.  I'll try not to grow too smug.  There is so much more I need to see.

That's about it for now.  I never placed too much faith in epiphanies.  It is what it is.  Until we meet again, I wish you love, peace and happiness.

With Sincere Affection,