Joel Silverstein

Hey. Just sat down at Coffee Time. Ordered a chai. It’s all right, but it doesn’t measure up to that Green Mountain place in NH. Had a pretty defining day at PSU; I meditated, contemplated and walked a lot. And I finally got food from Basha’s lunch truck. Basha was extremely hospitable. She let me sample the hummus.

I brought my gyro inside and sat at a table in Smith center. Halfway through my meat and sauce-filled pita, I noticed a flyer on the table. “Try Something New” it said.

“OK.” I had nothing to lose. The flyer advertised a labyrinth located on the third floor, sponsored by Pilgrims Path, a campus ministry. At first I had thought that it might be some kind of screening of that wonderfully cracked-out movie with Jennifer Connoly and David Bowie playing the twisted wizard king. As I kept reading, I found that there would be no goblins or talking doors, but an actual cloth labyrinth laid out on the floor, a miniature replica of the floor of the Chartres Cathedral in France, circa 1220 AD. The program ran from 1-4 p.m. It was 3:04. Perfect.

I sauntered off to Smith Center 338, the Vanport room. I walked in quietly to find myself in the middle of the perfect metaphor. People: women, men, students, faculty, all wandering though the labyrinth of existence together. And none of them wore shoes.

I made my way to the corner, and removed my Vans. I then made may way towards the mouth of the mammoth maze. The cycle of the labyrinth flows in three parts. On the way in, the long quest to find the middle (another fitting metaphor), I began to release some of the negative energy I had carried in with me the outside, the pressure of being alive. Clearing my head of responsibilities and concerns, I gave myself to the peace of the labyrinth.

Once in the middle, I reached toward the sky. I thought of everything and nothing. My head was solemn but still sound. I then sat down, and continued my meditation for some time. My eyes flung open and I knew I was fit to begin my journey out of the center, back into life, strolling along with a new understanding among my fellow wanderers. I found it refreshing that we had all taken time out of our lives to do this for ourselves. I walked out through strawberry fields of white grass and warm sun, only having to open my eyes to reality to step past another walker. I felt the knots of stress loosen in my chest, and for that instant, I allowed myself to let go.

For the rest of the day I’ve been seeing everything with such a positive backing. Even the rain seemed glorious. So I came here, to the dark back room of my favorite coffee shop, to write and observe life. A minute ago I listened in on a conversation and ended up explaining the process of pro-bono work to some high-school kids. I feel like I can do anything. Wanted to share the feeling of a positive day spent at Portland State. Take care. These eccentric dudes want my table to play chess. Vaya con dios, Joel. Joel Silverstein is on exchange from UMass Amherst.