Today I walked down to the neighborhood labyrinth at Christie Pits park. It’s painted on the conical wading pool, and on this day the benches were filled with chinese elderly (joyously) shouting at each other.
I have a long relationship with the particular labyrinth, I’ve probably walked it 100 times. I used to walk down to this park and hoop the labyrinth each morning before I started my day. It was a commute for me, forcing me to move, experience the weather, and get dressed like a normal person.
I love the way that the circular shape of the whole labyrinth is so simple, so predictable, but the path inside is not. Even after walking so many times, I can’t predict the path. Or more exactly, when I started the practice I decided to not worry about where the next bend would lead, to not worry about memorizing the path so I could do it more efficiently, but to just do it, to enjoy, and to be lost for as long as possible.
The Christie Pits labyrinths are made by the same artist who makes most of them in the city – HiMY. I love finding them as I walk around Toronto, they encourage taking a few minutes to wander in a small space, to be present, and to be curious.
I have a few rules that I set for myself – take a breath at the start and set an intention. At the centre I take another moment to reflect before I turn around and retrace the path. I take a conscious breath and moment of thanks at the end. No crossing the lines, and no talking. The last one was made so that I would focus on the practice, cause especially when a hoop is involved, people are curious about why I’m dancing on this concrete circle and will ask me questions.
Sometimes I feel like a slave to lines painted on the ground, but it’s those days that I most need the wandering.
Sometimes, like this morning, I see another walker start the labyrinth, but quit before they reach the center. They often seem frustrated at how long it’s taking, or confused that it’s not a maze – there’s no choices to make and the only way to control how quickly you get to the centre is to change your speed. I like not having to make any decisions.
A few years ago, Mo and I made a video of hooping in a labyrinth. Mo started in the middle and I started on the outside, and we wandered through as a cyclist learned to ride backwards https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qW3SR3y2e7s