The Glass Maze

Posted: April 9, 2008 in Goals, Homelessness, Hopes

Geez. Talk about having a terrible night.

After I wrote and published my post last night, I answered some email, etcetera. I started getting hungry, so I had something to eat. Unfortunately it was already late. So I went to bed with all of that food still sitting in my stomach. Not good. I ended up having some pretty strange dreams.  

At the end of yesterday’s post I gave a link to the Real Change website that allows a person to "play" being homeless. The object of the "game" is to make choices that will allow you to get out of homelessness. That must have been on my mind when I finally feel asleep. That would explain one of the dreams I had.

It was about trying to get through a glass maze. You know the kind. Some amusement parks and carnivals used to have them. Like all mazes, the goal is to navigate your way through to the other side.

While that may sound easy to someone who has never been through one, the combination of low lighting and walls made up of extremely clean glass, make getting through the maze an absolute chore. It can be extremely frustrating especially since you can see other folks going through the maze who seem to making some progress. In the meanwhile, you seem to keep going about in circles. But you’re not really sure.

The irony is that it’s the clarity of the glass that makes it unclear which turns to make – no clear choices, as it were.

Because of the glass, "dead ends" aren’t a quite as apparent as they might be if they were made of something else. You try putting your hands out in front of you, trying to feel your way along, but that doesn’t speed up your progress any. You try looking up or down, hoping to notice where "wall" meets the floor and ceiling, but that only makes you bump your head on the glass. You find yourself making "wrong turn" after "wrong turn."

When you first entered the maze, you thought to yourself that it wouldn’t be all that hard to get through to the other side. You were sure that you’d be able to make it through the ordeal in record time. Everybody would be patting you on the back and congratulating you for how well you did and how easy you made it seem. Now you’re wondering just how long it’s going to take before you can actually get to the other side. And, after a while, it begins to feel extremely confining.

I’ve actually heard of people getting stuck in those mazes. In the end what happens is that one of the staff members has to go into the maze and "rescue" the person.

Being homeless is a lot like being in a glass maze. You’re constantly moving trying to get out to the "other side." But, it’s filled with so many twists and turns. As you walk into a dead end, you back up so that you can choose a different course of action. But sometimes when you back up, you find yourself in another dead end.

There are times when you find yourself in the same "spot" for quite a long period of time just trying to decide with direction may lead to the exit.

And like a glass maze, you see other folks trying to get through. Perhaps some of them are near to getting out. Others may have just started. You shake your head at them. You know what they’re going to have to go through; the challenges they’re going to face. You might even see someone who’s stuck in a set of dead ends. You feel sorry for them. You’d like to warn them about that one turn they’re about to make, but right now you have your own set of worries to deal with. Your goal is to get out.

The other thing that glass mazes and homelessness have in common is that while you’re busy navigating your way through all of the twists and turns, life is happening. The world "outside" is merrily going on its way. People are going about their lives; laughing, enjoying the sights and sounds around them. You, on the other hand, are stuck on the "inside" and there are very few people who are actually giving any thought to you at all.

Sure there are a handful of people who will walk up to the glass and peer in. They’re curious to see what progress the folks inside of the maze are making – if any. You can see them looking in. Some are pointing at someone inside of the maze; saying something to the person beside them. Heck, they might even be pointing at you. But they have other things they want to do. Eventually they just move on and go about their business.

You watch them as they move along.

You start thinking again about which turn to make. You’d like to be out there enjoying life with everyone else, but you have to get out of here first. You’re hoping you’re not going to be one of those who end up getting stuck in here.

That wouldn’t be good…

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