The labyrinth outside my door calls me. To the untrained eye, perhaps it is just a scattering of rocks. But to me, it’s the place I go to meditate. Or sometimes, just to walk. It isn’t a traditional seven circuit labyrinth. It’s what fits in my yard. It doesn’t matter that it is only four circles with four turns. It serves its purpose.
On the first day of the shelter in place order I placed fourteen small stones at the entrance of the labyrinth, one to carry each day. I’d walk the first thing in the morning, pick up one stone, quietly observe the new day and all its twists and turns, and then place the stone into the center.
As we neared the end of our fourteen day quarantine, we learned it wasn’t over yet. The virus had run rampant and there was a new order. A month at least. I’d need a bigger pile of stones. And not just one for each day. If I were to maintain any sense of peace, I’d need to do a lot more journeys through this maze.
My days began with the daily walk. As time went on, whenever there was something I needed to ponder, or when I felt restless or angry or sad, I’d take my emotions to that peaceful place. Each time I picked up one small stone at the entrance. I’d feel the weight of the stone. The coolness or warmth. The shape.
And when I got to the center of the labyrinth, I placed that small stone on one of the larger rocks. Each day I started a new stack. At the end of the day I could look at those cairns and remember each walk, the thoughts that crossed my mind, the weight of each rock left behind and the lighter journey out. Sometimes there was only only one small pebble. On other days maybe five or six balanced precariously one on top of another. I began to realize, the taller the stack, the more balanced I felt.
There would be 83 towers in that center now if nature had let them be but not all towers are built on a strong foundation. Some are built with careful thought and practice, balanced with precision. They fall easily, blown over by a gentle wind. Others are sturdy stones, flat ones, the ones that are simple to stack. The mass of stones that have fallen, lie in rubble. That is not destruction. It is a reminder that I can build a dream but I’m not in charge of the outcome.
It’s all about balance.
Memoirs should never be written under a pen name. At least that is what I have been told. I’ve also been told that we need to “own” our story – therefore, our name must appear as the writer. Otherwise it could be taken as frivolous fiction. But here’s the thing: I plan to publish my memoir Homeless Bound under the pen name M.Z. Bull. Obviously, it’s not for the sake of anonymity. Rather, it comes as a request from the grandson I happen to be raising who was shocked to see my name in large white letters on the proof copy. “You can’t do that,” he said.
“Why?” I asked.
“It’s embarrassing,” he said.
“What’s embarrassing?” I asked.
He pointed to the author’s name.
I have nothing to hide. If you turn the book over and are surprised to see a familiar face, you may already know I have lived in my northern California home for over fifty years. Marjorie Witt has appeared as herself in Story Circle Journal, Street Spirit (Justice News & Homeless Blues in the Bay Area), talkingsoup.com and here, in this blog. So where does M.Z. Bull come from? I think you might already know.