I bring this up because I‘ve had a week that has been productively and creatively all over the place. It has felt like travelling with very poor directions. I may have been in a mazyrinth.
Mazes and labyrinths
Speaking very broadly, the difference between mazes and labyrinths comes down to, “… mazes, which have dead ends, and labyrinths, which do not.”
Creatively, when you are frustrated it is often because you feel as if you have hit a dead end. “Where do I go from here? Where was I headed anyway?” It feels like being in a maze.
On the other hand, sometimes you do know where you’re headed; you are just a bit disoriented. “Where am I? Where do I go to get back on track?” It feels like you’re in a labyrinth.
What if both are true? What if you have a goal – a centre to which you are headed – but the centre changes?
A mazyrinth. A work or solution you are trying to complete is a labyrinth but, as it progresses over time, the goal (or center) changes. Perhaps it moves. This means paths that were correct are now incorrect (dead ends — a maze) because where you were headed has changed.
Are the goal and approach in sync?
It may seem a silly word to dream up but I think the concept is solid. We often work toward goals but, as we do, those goals alter and as they do how we work toward them changes. Getting goals in sync with what we do to achieve them is where problems can arise. We have to:
- recognize that the goal has changed and,
- we have to know how we have to alter our approach to accommodate the changed goal and,
- we have to know how to go about doing that.
I think, however, most frustration arises out of losing sight of the goal (the centre). This is probably why, when stuck, it is often best to go back to basics – to simplify. When we simplify we also clarify.
Sometimes what we find is not so much a problem of a changing goal as a discovery that a number of other goals have to be achieved first, the main goal being dependent on them.
For example, in Greek mythology there is the tale of Jason and the Argonauts and the quest for the Golden Fleece, the coat of a golden-haired winged ram. Getting the fleece was a goal but not the goal. It was a step to achieving the over-riding objective, “… to place Jason rightfully on the throne of Iolcus in Thessaly.”
In other words, sometimes when we’re stuck it may be that we’re trying to achieve something that isn’t our larger goal but something we’ve perceived as a necessary step. Being stuck may be due to it not actually being necessary.
Being stuck may be that we’re so focused on this secondary goal that we’ve lost sight of the larger one. In this case, I would say you aren’t in a mazyrinth or a labyrinth. You’re in a maze because you’ve hit a dead end. You need to recognize that it is a dead end.
Many goals; no priorities
There is one last aspect and probably the one that has had me muddled all week. We know the goal. We know the secondary goals. But we have not prioritized any of them. So we spin wheels trying to achieve all simultaneously (which cannot be done).
And as we spin those wheels, we are preoccupied with the spinning wheels and fail to step back and see we are in a mazyrinth. We fail to see how the goal and the secondary goals relate to one another and we fail to see how the primary goal (the centre) may be changing.
I think I’ve been in and out of a mazyrinth all week. But I think I’m getting myself (and those goals) sorted out now.
The mazyrinth: where goals evolve as we near them.