Sunday, September 19, 2010

Draco and the Labyrinths

Draco crawled on his belly through the maze.  He didn't know how he had come to be there, but he was beginning to discover how to navigate its twists and turns.  Before long, he could predictably get food when he was hungry and attention when he was lonely, and yet there always seemed to be new paths to explore.  One day, he discovered that he didn't need to slither along the ground, but could actually crawl up the walls of the labyrinth.

With a sense of wonder, Draco climbed on short legs up a wall all the way to the top.  When he looked around, the whole labyrinth was laid out before him.  It was no longer a mystery, and although it was comfortable and familiar, he began to notice something beyond the labyrinth he knew.  It was another place, unfamiliar and yet inviting.  He crawled to that place and began to explore.

Soon, Draco realized that he was in a new maze, with wonders and perils he had never known before.  The old labyrinth was gone.  As he walked along the new passageways, he made new discoveries.  Beyond learning how to get his basic needs met in the new place, he also found ways that led to other rewards.  Before long, the new labyrinth was as familiar as the one he had left behind.  When he scaled the walls, he could see other mazes, but they seemed distant and unreachable.

With a bit of surprise, Draco discovered one day that flaps of skin between his legs would let him glide through the air.  As he tried out his new capability, he realized that he could reach the other labyrinths he had seen with great ease.  He wandered the mazes, each with its own surprises and rewards.  The routes through some of them were so simple that Draco lost interest quickly.  Other labyrinths were complicated enough that he became frustrated with them.  Over time, he became familiar enough with bits and pieces of many labyrinths that he could find his way to what he wanted.  By traveling this or that path, he could reliably get food, shelter, and other rewards.

But Draco eventually became so accustomed to the reliable routes that navigating the labyrinths no longer excited him.  He began to think about who had built the labyrinths, and why they had fashioned the corridors as they had.  He knew that his parents had created at least one of the mazes he frequented, and he assumed that they had traversed their own twisting paths.  Friends, lovers, bosses, distant officials, and others he had never met crafted other labyrinths.  When one maze became tiresome or filled with dead ends, Draco could glide over to another labyrinth and walk its paths for awhile.  And when that became frustrating, he moved to yet another maze.  He began to wonder if there wasn't something more, something that wasn't a labyrinth.  A place without twisting corridors and confusing jumbles of paths.

One day, Draco noticed that the skin flaps that he used to glide from one maze to another had developed further.  To his amazement, he found that he could fly up into the air.  He would soar for awhile, and then return to one of the familiar labyrinths when the sheer freedom became frightening.  A strong tether kept him from getting too high, too far away.  When he became tired of the convoluted halls, he could fly up and away from them.  But when he needed something, he knew how to return and travel the familiar paths.  The tether kept him safe and close. 

Until one bright day, Draco realized that he could get to anything he needed by simply flying to it.  So he shook off the tether, and took to the air.  He played on the zephyrs, perfectly content.  And he never entered another labyrinth.


  1. So Draco is free of the bonds of his own making, but how does he interact with other creatures that reside in their labyrinths without entering them? Being rather unique in his unfettered freedom, Draco will probably get quite lonely up there by himself.

  2. Well, it is a simple parable, to be sure. I suppose I imagine that Draco has the option of returning to the labyrinths whenever he wishes. And he could potentially help others see how to handle their self-imposed bonds as well. Ultimately, I suppose it's up to each individual to choose how much freedom they actually want. Am I to understand you to say that it's better to remain in chains, if only for the company?

  3. That depends. Being entirely free of any kind of restraint may cause one to reach beyond their bounds. Our self imposed restraints may only serve to keep us grounded in reality and not let us lose our heads in the clouds.

  4. Perhaps it's just a matter of whether we choose the boundaries or we allow others to choose our boxes for us.