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Feb 14
The way out of maze

​Labyrinths tend to drag me in since the early years of my life.
The first ones were just shapes drawn on paper – seemingly an intellectual problem, but well-known mythology stories about them were adding quite a touch of mystery.
Then my knowledge was expanded by intriguing mathematics adventure book for youngsters: "Two-horn wizard" by Serguei Bobrow that I read when I was like 11. That was one of these books which guide you into exploring mathematics as a story of some kind of fantasy journey – extraordinarily adequate approach for someone young enough to believe that world can be built out of unusual ideas, while being able to leave practical details for later. It gave meaning to all that paths and turns, as well as a hint of theory behind it. I started to draw them by myself and dream of really seeing one.
When computer games showed up, no matter how primitive they were, their virtual world brought more realistic experience. It wasn't possible to just leave the place where you got stuck (unless you were able to do some hacking tricks) nor rise above it, to see the way out in one glance. This made it closer to the actual feeling of going thru the maze.
Then finally, last year, I have found the real labyrinths. The first was a green one, build of hornbeam shrubs in Hortulus Gardens close to Polish Baltic See coast and the second one, the biggest snow construction in the world this year, is in Zakopane – a Tatra Mountains spa. 


I can totally understand why many people would not find it a fun to enter labyrinth. While obviously not everybody is a fan of a puzzles, the emotional experience of dealing with it can be much more rejecting. The feeling of helplessness is what we intensely avoid in our life and we prefer to always know the straight way out of troubles.
But that's not all of us. We are able to think of the labyrinth as the whole structure, while being inside rely on local orientation and decisions that have to be made just here and now. We are prepared to deal with it. Life is just like that. But still we'd rather have a map.
That's what the most of people were doing: checking, orienting themselves, solving the problem. Some of them where even playing the game of visiting all marked check-points in specified order, which would not be possible without enough control. 


In my case I wanted to try different. The labyrinths were not very complicated, as they were designed to be fun, not nightmare. I had enough knowledge of how to solve them from inside, so I wanted to try the challenge of dealing with them one-on-one. I entered them determined to cross all the paths until I will find myself on the other end. I expected all the necessary steps: checking the dead ends, choosing ways one by one and coming back on my own tracks.
The funny thing was that walking fast, taking every turn without hesitation, right or wrong as necessary, not losing any time for debating, I made an impression that I know the way. Some people tried to follow me or tended to change their route to mine. Some looked at me like I was somehow cheating. They didn't know I probably made twice their way (but probably in half the time), yet I didn't feel lost. I felt sure.
My favorite event was when I encountered a mother with a son like 10 years old. He was irritated and complaining as boys can be at this age (but probably just frightened) and she was despaired to comfort him. Seeing me, she had the least reasonable question you can ask in the middle of a labyrinth: "Do you know where the exit is?" I couldn't answer that, so I pointed in some possible direction and added "Don't worry, go on, you cannot really be lost here." I hope I was right.

In real life, it's good to have a map, wherever you can. You can always use Omnicontext Analytics to combine local elements of everyday life to have a glance at global view which helps to find the way out. Everywhere else just try all possible turns. One of them is right.

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