At least a few times a year, that I know of, my friend and sister in the most important work I ever did, walks this labyrinth. It was born of her hands onto the property she has lived on for 35 years. Scottie’s story of family and all that it has to offer is well documented in her book, Under a Blue Bowl: The Life of Olive Scott Benkelman Mostly in Her Own Words . Scottie gathers friends from all over the continental US to walk this labyrinth. I hope one day to make it there. Until then, I walk it in spirit.
The image of I’itoi comes from the Pima (Tohono Odom) Native Indian tribe in Tucson, Arizona. There is a Franciscan Mission on tribal land once, while visiting, I spoke to a woman selling her art. She told me about the man in the maze and the significance of understanding the legend. I appreciate any old legend that can be applied to life as we know it. (as opposed to, you know….dragging your son up to a mountain to sacrifice). The maze represents the journey of life and the center holds your dreams and goals. According to O’odham oral history, the labyrinth design depicts experiences and choices we make in our journey through life. In the middle of the maze, a person finds their dreams and goals. When you get to the center, you have one last opportunity to look back over your path – your life – before the Sun God greets you and you pass on into the next world. From the center, you can see your whole life. Which got me thinking about ….path and journey, where I’ve been, what has been my choice, what hasn’t and where I am going. There may be a lot to be said about whether one feels alone for some of that journey. I don’t see the maze of life as busy with company. I think by the time you are meeting the Sun God, you are probably alone, but you have the experiences and you can look back over all the people you traveled with.
It is really nice to see children growing and thriving with people around them that care for them and care about them. To have people who consciously make decisions (a maze trait) and choices to ensure a child grows to his/her potential in the midst of a family is a wonderful thing to see. Every time I see it, I feel like I can pull up another memory and give it a boot to the curb. Life is good….there are a lot of people doing a lot of good things and there are people loving children and raising them to be good people.
I have had a story that lives in a memory that popped out of its hole the other day. A friend shared a picture of a book, inscribed by her father (who has recently passed on). What’s so special about that? Besides being a nice surprise for her to find, her discovery eclipsed the lack of connection I have with my dad and in a lightening bolt kind of way…..the image of a book with her father’s note to her in it, gave me a chance to fill in a crack.
My mom was at best mono literate.I may have just made that term up. By the time I was about 8, it was apparent that she spoke a language halfway between English and Japanese. She read very little English text and I am not kidding when I say she never read a single thing to me. I had to write my own notes for school. Mom didn’t read menus at restaurants. My dad didn’t read to me either. He would keep newspapers around, and I realized much later on that he turned the pages too quickly. I don’t think he was reading. I have no idea what someone gets out of turning giant pieces of paper, but he did. By the time I was in my 30’s, my dad had amassed a collection of books. He loved the dollar store for cookies and cheap, worthless tools. And books. But he never read them. They filled a bookshelf and gathered dust. I didn’t step foot in a library until I was an adult. I’m not sure how I managed that, but I did. I had no idea. Reading was a foreign activity for me….I also managed to avoid any literary classes until my senior year…in 1982, I only needed 2 credits to graduate. I took sports in literature and the Bible in literature. I stole some paperbacks from a stack that year and read: Helter Skelter, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Brahm Stoker’s Dracula and All Quiet on the Western Front. For some reason, I was assigned Animal Farm and 1984, but I think that was a government class and it was taught by a psych teacher. Maybe you can fast forward and wonder with me how I came to be me now….I still don’t know. Back up to about age 9. It was summer and I had moved to the US from W Germany. I must have been behind or something. They put me in summer school. I was sent home to make a book. They gave me sheets of paper and heavier colored paper for the cover….I think they had holes punched, I seem to remember tying them with yarn pieces. I had 2 choices in front of me. One was to mimic what I had seen at home and the other was to not do the project. My parents never did and wouldn’t in my future offer input or assistance. I went with the former. My dad had stacks of Playboy Magazines in the living room. At that age, that was all the reading material there was. I was an avid cereal box reader and signs, when we drove around. Speed limit signs, street signs, store front signs, bumper stickers. I still do that, almost compulsively. Guess what my project ended up being? Yep. A Playboy magazine. Complete with a joke page, a center layout, question and answer, advertisements. I got sent home from summer school.
The odds of connecting with children are so good…..in the simplest ways…..I am in awe…it still amazes me to see parents engaged in the simple act of inscribing a book, or taking their preadolescent to a concert, or strolling the mall, or dropping off at the library or making a school project….we all know its cheating…it’s not about the science process…it’s about the connection to the parent. I was horrified at the ridicule I received over that. And I had no idea of the why. I am a voracious reader now, if it matters. My kids all read, too. So there’s that.
And I have kicked that story to the curb, thankfully.