Navigating Life’s Labyrinths

For me, myths are a touchstone, a framework that helps me work out some of life’s thorniest dilemmas. Recently, I’ve been dealing with a series of daunting, pivotal decisions. But I am now escaping that labyrinth – happily and on my own terms.

BILL MOYERS: I like what you say about the old myth of Theseus and Ariadne. Theseus says to Ariadne, “I’ll love you forever if you can show me a way to come out of the labyrinth.” So she gives him a ball of string, which he unwinds as he goes into the labyrinth, and then follows to find the way out. You say, “All he had was the string. That’s all you need.”

JOSEPH CAMPBELL: That’s all you need – an Ariadne thread.

MOYERS: Sometimes we look for great wealth to save us, a great power to save us, when all we need is that piece of string.

CAMPBELL: That’s not always easy to find. But it’s nice to have someone who can give you a clue. That’s the teacher’s job, to help you find your Ariadne thread.

(Extract from Joseph Campbell’s The Power of Myth, with Bill Moyers.)

Tile Design of Theseus and the Minotaur in the Labyrinth by Sir Edward Burne-Jones

The struggle through the labyrinth is our own. There are unexpected twists and turns, and we can easily lose our sense of direction. In the heart of the maze, we must learn to navigate with confidence and purpose.

It’s gratifying to look around and be thankful for our helpers in life, especially when they have the love and intuition to know they can help us through our struggles, while still allowing us the space to find our own way.

I think I could probably explore this further and find all sorts of profound metaphors for thread and labyrinths and Minotaurs that we need to conquer.

In this moment, though, I am simply content to  write that I feel such appreciation for the person in my life who cared enough to hand me a thread and gave me the space to learn that I’m a much better navigator than I ever thought I could be.

Ariadne, John William Waterhouse

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