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It was an autumn afternoon; the sun was warm, the corn stalks stretched toward the brilliant blue sky, and my class had effectively lost me. I could hear them squealing and whispering, mostly beyond sight, and darting this way and that. The guys delighted in springing out to surprise the girls, and the girls moved in huddles, second guessing each choice. I was the “sweeper,” restraining my natural inclinations by purposely lingering behind and make sure every timid heart exited not far behind the courageous or foolishly rushing ones. I had brought them for a “field trip” (corn field) (I don’t remember what excuse I devised to justify it—but at the private school the administration was amendable). I brought them so that they could enjoy one of my favorite things too.

Mazes fascinate us. From the Cretan Labyrinth containing the Minotaur to the walls of Troy (that legend says had seven exterior walls arranged as a maze to frustrate an attacking force), to the mazes of The Shining or The Goblet of Fire, people are intrigued / frightened with mazes. They walk with the combination of bravely rounding corners to the unknown, while glancing backward as if to reassure themselves they haven’t taken a wrong turn.

What is it about the idea that we believe we can solve our way through, while simultaneously petrified that what if, maybe, we don’t.

Like the family that didn’t.

This incident caused the owner of the corn maze consternation? / amusement? / additional profit? He said, “We don’t want to see anybody get lost and panic and call 911. . .We constructed the maze for people to get lost and have fun, and 99.9 percent of people do have fun getting lost.”

Is that it? Is it fun to get lost? To feel that nobody knows where you are and that you are for a moment completely free to make your own choices without regulations or influence. Hidden from expectations and manners. A person could pull faces, attempt a cartwheel, or just lay on their back and make a straw angel and nobody would ever know. Really. Unless they blog about it.

But then there is the problem, that maybe, you really do get lost, and you don’t know where you are either.

Just in case, it might be good first to read how to get out of a maze.

Despite that family’s ordeal, or perhaps because of it, people still crowd to enter corn mazes each October. There is something about trying to find your way to an exit that has been hidden, especially as the sky darkens, or spooks lurk to spring at you.

This October, throw Caution out the window and find a maze near you. Here’s the one near me that I like best. I prefer when the crowds are thin, the dusk is gathering, and the wind rustles the stalks just ever so slightly.

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