Last night I had a disturbing dream. I found myself lost in a great maze, trapped amid giant stone walls twice the height of any person. Coming to a small courtyard and sipping from the small fountain within, I suddenly became aware that I had two companions standing nearby. One was a man with a great beard and deep German accent, introduced himself as Mark. The other, an astute looking man with glasses, intelligent smile and the loud, confident voice of an American. He told me his name was Milten. Like myself they were trapped, but in their gaze I found both sympathy and the confidence that hinted they knew the way out.
“I know the secret of the maze”, said Mark, “Let us simply proceed along this wall before us, turning always to our left. We shall soon find our freedom.” Milten didn’t seem happy about that, but Mark was already striding towards the nearest archway exiting the courtyard. So we twisted and turned through the maze, Mark leading the way, followed Milten wearing a frown of deep concern, and then myself, wondering if we would ever find our way out. A pale sun edged across the sky above us, casting afternoon shadows on the walls and stone path.
Finally Milten lept forward to block Mark’s path. Somehow, Milten now had a sword in his hand. “No more! This is not the way” he said. “You’ve turned us constantly to the left, and it’s been a disaster. We must turn right. Only by turning to the right will we ever find our way out.” Mark’s face was red with fury, but not wishing to suffer the sword’s kiss, he stayed silent. We continued on, this time turning always to the right. Milten led us forward as the shadows lengthened and the sun crept towards the top of the walls.
After a time we emerged again into the courtyard in which we had begun. Mark was laughing darkly. Milten hesitated only a moment before pointing his sword to another archway leading away. “Onwards, to the right”. Now Mark stepped forward, this time with his own sword in hand. “No, if we had kept going to the left, my plan would have worked.” Milten was resolute. “Your plan is a fools plan, paved with disaster and our ultimate demise. To the right we must go”. Facing off, neither flinching, I realised only I could break the tension. Their eyes turned slowly to me, “you must choose” they said in unison. They did not look patient.
I began to hear strange distant sounds echoing through the maze, clearly getting closer. With the darkness deepening, I looked around desperately. I sensed this maze wasn’t about to yield to a simple rule of right or left. Perhaps we could try to wander sometimes left and sometimes right, trying to please both Mark and Milton, but unless our path was based on new knowledge, it might only get us lost deeper in the stone labyrinth. Instead, looking upwards, I realised the wall’s top was not so far out of reach. “Together,” as I pointed, “we can surely reach the top, seeking knowledge before choosing our path. Lift me up, quickly.” But when I looked down again, Milten and Mark were standing at two different archways, unconcerned, even as the eerie sounds and darkness grew. “To the right”. “To the left”. As they disappeared into the gloom, I began clawing at the wall. The darkness kept closing in, enveloping the courtyard like a cloud of ink in clear water. I could sense the things grew closer with the darkness. As my vision began to dim and my body was gripped with increasing paralysis, I felt something cold and unyielding, yet alive, begin to take hold of me in the black.
I awoke in a cold sweat, relieved it was all a dream.
But are we really awake from this, you and I? I think in a way, we’re still lost in a maze. You, I and everyone else – humanity’s labyrinth, a labyrinth of broken ideas, crazed voices more concerned with Left or Right than finding our way in the gloom. And there’s something dark lurking in here with us, something that neither Left nor Right will save us from. Our only hope is to rise above it, out of the darkness and out of the maze. Our only hope is up, together, over the wall.