Thread your way through my labyrinth of love and find me


A woman recently explained that there is a difference between a labyrinth and a maze. This is what she said: “When you enter a labyrinth, there is only one way that leads to its centre. When walking it you sometimes appear to get further away from the centre, but when you continue you get step by step nearer to the centre.”

This woman entered a maze together with her children. After about 45 minutes she still was wandering from one dead-end to another, while her children had already found the exit. From their standing point, they not only could see their mother but also could give her directions and guided her out of the maze.

“One day” {writes Alberto Manguel when answering the question What is Curiosity?} “when I was eight or nine, in Buenos Aires, I lost my way coming back from class. The school was one of many that I attended in my childhood, and stood at a short distance from our house, in the tree-lined neighborhood of Belgrano. Then as now, I was easily distracted, and all sorts of things caught my attention as I walked back home in the starched white pinafore all schoolchildren were obliged to wear: the corner grocery store that before the age of supermarkets held large barrels of briny olives, cones of sugar wrapped in light-blue paper, blue tins of Canale biscuits; the stationer’s with its patriotic notebooks displaying the faces of our national heroes and shelves lined with the yellow covers of the Robin Hood children series; a tall, narrow door with harlequin stained glass which was sometimes left open, revealing a grim courtyard where a tailor’s mannequin mysteriously languished; the sweet seller, a fat man sitting at a street corner on a tiny stool, who held, like a lance, his kaleidoscopic wares”.

“I usually took the same way back, counting off the landmarks as I passed them, but that day I decided to change course. After a few blocks, I realized I didn’t know the way. I was too ashamed to ask for directions, so I wandered, more astonished than frightened, for what seemed to me a very long time”.

“I don’t know why I did what I did, except that I wanted to experience something new, to follow whatever clues I might find to mysteries not yet apparent, as in the Sherlock Holmes stories, which I had just discovered. I wanted to deduce the secret story of the doctor with a battered walking stick, to reveal that the tiptoeing footmarks in the mud were those of a man running for his life, to ask myself why someone would be wearing a groomed black beard that was no doubt false. “The world is full of obvious things which nobody by any chance ever observes,” said the Master”.

“I remember becoming aware, with a feeling of pleasurable anxiety, that I was engaging in an adventure different from the ones on my shelves and yet I experienced something of the same suspense, the same intense desire to find out what lay ahead, without being able (without wanting) to foretell what might take place. I felt as if I’d entered a book and was on the way to its undisclosed final pages. What exactly was I looking for? Perhaps this was when for the first time I conceived of the future as a place that held together the tail-ends of all the possible stories”.

“But nothing happened. At long last, I turned a corner and found myself on familiar ground. When I finally saw my house, it felt like a disappointment”.