Wisdom from a Hay Bale Maze

by Belinda Munoz on August 23, 2010

hay bale maze

Recently, my threesome of a family went to an Apple Fair in a sweet Stars Hollow-like town an hour north of the Golden Gate Bridge.  Thousands of folks from around the Bay, dressed in the most summery of Northern California attire, gathered to sip reds and whites from local wineries and to sample a dizzying variety of apple products from the familiar to the novel.

Of course, there was also the usual fair grub such as funnel cakes, garlic fries and hot dogs.  These, we narrowly escaped having filled up on a lunch of Bulgarian fare.  The mini donuts, however, may as well have been called the devil’s delight.  Not a single visitor seemed able to resist.  Not the cowboys, not the bikers, certainly not the cherubic, rosy-cheeked boys and girls barely old enough to walk.  Not even the little novice of a nun with an earnest face.  If they couldn’t say no, who was I to say no?

It was a gorgeous day.  There was something about all that food (and the apples, apples everywhere!) that made smiles flash more readily.  A mix of locals from every ethnic background as well as tourists representing every corner of the globe blanketed the fairgrounds with contentment.  It was nice.  For a brief moment, the song We Are the World played in my head and it felt as though there was world peace.

This feeling didn’t last.  My son, with his uncanny ability to gravitate toward things that worry me, saw a hay bale maze.  As a citified chick with a challenged geographical sense, my experience with hay bale mazes is less than zero.  My first feeling was one of dread.  Oh, no, I’m going to lose him. It didn’t help that I had a slight allergic reaction to all that hay.  (Just thinking about it now makes my nose itch.)  I surveyed the maze and panicked a little when I couldn’t tell how many entrances and exits there were.

I realize that real life, in some ways, is a bit like a hay bale maze:

We feel out of sorts traveling from point A to point B. We don’t possess the confidence we need when we traverse a path we’ve never walked.  Every turn can look just like the last one.  At a fork in the road, we have no way of knowing for sure if we should make a left or if we should make a right.  But, what’s with the shoulds, anyway?  Whether it’s left or right or straight, the path that suits us is the path that makes us come alive.

Directions don’t always get us where we want to go. Even with a GPS system, there are times when it can’t get us directly to our desired destination.  In the same regard, there will be those who will give us direction or instructions in life, whether welcome or not.  This is nice because it’s comforting to know that we’re traversing a path that isn’t completely unpaved.  But what’s even nicer is the option of taking these directions with a grain of salt.  Because there are times when the path we want to take is exactly the one that is not paved.  A path that worked for someone else may not at all be the path I’d like to walk.

We see walls more often than the path. With bales of hay stacked higher than human height, our vision is blocked by eight-foot walls, giving little clue as to whether we are traveling in the right direction.  But every hay bale maze has a way out.  No matter how many walls into which we run.  And, though our immediate vision may be obstructed in a maze, our larger vision need not be.  We don’t need to lose our ability to see the big picture just because there are walls in front of us.

It can be frustrating. Once our sense of adventure wanes, a hay bale maze becomes so not fun anymore.  But why not see  this as a golden opportunity?  Instead of losing it, why not tunnel through all that hay, make a new path and create a new exit outta there?

My son, naturally, found his way around the maze.  In fact, he went through it again, and again, and again and came out of different exits.  By his last go round, I think his lesson for me finally sunk in.  That I should be happy he’s thrilled to walk an unmarked path; a path he’s never walked before.  It may not be safe.  It may not make sense.  But I suspect that by doing so, he will continue to discover surprises along those paths.  And, though it may take him a while, he will always find his way out of a maze if he continues to walk, following his metaphorical inner compass, one step at a time.

I will think of this the next time I forge a new path.  More importantly, I will remind myself as often as necessary that walls, boundaries and mazes are never absolutes nor endless.


  1. Do you tend to run more into real walls, walls thrust upon by society, or self-made walls?
  2. Do you sometimes stop even though there’s no visible stop sign?  Even when you’d rather continue?
  3. What tends to make you keep going?
  4. Do you like hay bale mazes?


Image by makelessnoise

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Day 239 Favourite Five for Friday 27 Aug
August 26, 2010 at 2:51 pm

{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Aging Mommy August 23, 2010 at 4:43 am

Great post. I think many people are afraid or feel out of sorts traveling a new path or in unfamiliar territory. Having just returned from vacation I can tell you my daughter has confirmed that once again as for the entire week she struggled with a different environment. I have an innate sense of adventure and have always wanted in fact craved new experiences and love going somewhere new or doing something new like trying out a new restaurant. Still, there are times when I too see the walls, the barriers in front of me in life and sometimes it is hard to take a step back, look around and see that yes, there is an alternative way.


2 Katie August 23, 2010 at 5:54 am

A”mazing” lessons. Also great lessons for bloggers. The internet is a maze and there are millions of ways in and around it. “A path that worked for someone else may not at all be the path I’d like to walk.” This is my big take away. Be true to you, fearless and realize the possibilities are endless. I’m inspired. Thanks Belinda.


3 rob white August 23, 2010 at 7:04 am

Hi Belinda,
I love the maze metaphor. There are a lot of folks out there who will insist they know the way for us. If we follow their advice, we often find ourselves walking in circles, confused and disappointed. Delusion can create a lifetime of bewildering situations. Getting out of life’s mazes is learning how to trust our inner compass. It daring to question every opinion that others offer us. It is the genuine pleasure of thinking for ourselves.


4 TheKitchenWitch August 23, 2010 at 7:49 am

“…we see walls more than the path…” Oooh, that’s something to think about today.


5 Jenny August 23, 2010 at 8:59 am

What a beautiful post Belinda! And I love the picture!
I seem to be in a hay bale maze myself these days, and I must say that I’m rather loving it. I have set no deadline for getting out… just planning to discover everything that I can while I’m here.
I think that one thing that we forget when we contemplate entering the maze, is that there is really no safe path anywhere.
The world is changing faster and faster all of the time and often things are not the way we always thought they are.
Security is at best an illusion, so why not enjoy the maze and what it can teach us?


6 BigLittleWolf August 23, 2010 at 10:25 am

Wonderful post, Belinda. Very thoughtful, very enjoyable, and terrific metaphor.

I think the walls I run into as I get older are different from those I ran into in my 20s and 30s, and I suspect this is a common situation. When we are younger, many of our obstacles are self-made – of insecurity or inexperience, sometimes fear. As we get older, the obstacles may change. Some of us are less fearful in some ways at least, more confident of our abilities (including to find an exit), but the walls have changed. And we have changed.

Physical and health constraints are difficult to get around. Institutional barriers, equally so. Societal expectations – they’re very real as well, though we may out-maneuver them still.

So the maze becomes harder to navigate if we run out of steam in the process, or if the walls aren’t made of hay (so we may barrel through without being hurt). That doesn’t mean there aren’t paths through the maze, but what is an adventure ceases to be so. It becomes a trap, a place of being (seemingly) endlessly trapped, and getting nowhere.

I prefer to think that there are always means to get through the maze, but I don’t think we’re always in a position to do so.


7 Schmabes August 23, 2010 at 10:34 am

I wanted to share a quote that I heard on a TV drama years ago and it stuck with me; “having a child is to forever let your heart walk around outside your body.” I know it’s slightly off target but I had to share it.


8 Colleen August 23, 2010 at 5:37 pm

Hi Belinda,
that piece of wonderful wisdon is just what I needed this week. Even though I am not sure at the moment which path to take so long as I keep moving I may just find my way out to where I want to be. Thanks sometimes just the right message falls in our lap when we most need it.


9 Amber August 23, 2010 at 7:52 pm

Because of my choice to have a big family (or the play thereof), I often run against walls. I have heard many things from “you can’t afford that” (which we can) to “you are obviously not concerned with the dwindling resources on the Earth” (I’ll remember that the next time I drive by your huge mansion). Really, a big family is very uncommon and frowned upon. Yet, I know what I want and what is right for my family. What keeps me going is knowing that we have a plan for our family, one that includes a well paid job when we really need it and an attitude that is much more eco-conscious than the majority of the world’s population.

Ha! Obviously my pride has been pricked this week. : )

Oh, and very very wonderful post. It got me thinking!


10 Davina August 23, 2010 at 11:40 pm

Hi Belinda.
While reading this I was considering that bit about how we see the walls more than the path. I imagined myself walking on a path and seeing the walls; it occurred to me that the walls help me to keep my balance. I feel supported by them. Wow! I like playing with different perspectives and this helps me to see “walls” in a more positive light.


11 Kate August 24, 2010 at 9:34 am

And sometimes you just have to scale the walls, forget the maze set up for you and find your own way.
This is a beautiful piece.


12 The Exception August 24, 2010 at 4:16 pm

What a fun trip and experience. I I usually enjoy the process of a maze – of the hidden path that lies ahead – of the unknown. But, there are times when I am in a different mind set – I am not in the mood for the maze or the high walls that block the view. My daughter, on the other hand, loves stability and the “known.” Although she is adapting and becoming increasingly flexible, it is a transition that is on her terms and it is one that is based on maturity and experiences – joining her mom into the unknown and seeing the adventure and the fun that can be had. It Hasn’t been easy though – for either of us. We caught the wrong bus (going the wrong direction) a few months ago. While she was nervous and worried, I embraced the situaiton as a chance to explore. I suppose I like living life without a map! The experience taught her to relax, consider the options, and know that she is okay… and she hasn’t had challenges since.


13 Preeti @ Heart and Mind August 24, 2010 at 5:06 pm


What part of bay area, northern california you are in? We must be close by.

I love the way you used hay maze and your son with our own life’s and adult mazes, as we go through many unknown things in life and until we come out of it, we do not know if we are on right path or not. Loved the post!

Is the picture of your son? he is simply adorable.


14 Belinda Munoz August 24, 2010 at 11:25 pm

Hi Preeti, I’m in San Francisco. Where are you?
And yes, what a cute picture, huh? Not my son, though. Mine is faceless and nameless on this blog, for now.
Thanks for stopping by!


15 Preeti @ Heart and Mind August 25, 2010 at 8:54 pm


I am about 1 hour south of you! I can understand about your son being nameless and faceless on blog!


16 Eva @ Eva Evolving August 25, 2010 at 2:24 pm

Isn’t it true, that sometimes even a GPS can’t get you to your destination?!

I love the Fall tradition of going to an apple orchard for the hay rides and petting zoo and mazes. In a few weeks it will be time for this tradition here in Minnesota.

This is one of my favorite posts, Belinda. These lessons are so true, so vivid to me. There are so many times in life when we can’t see the destination, the exit, but we must keep going forward on faith, making the best decisions we can at each turn. Thank you for this uplifting reminder.


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