I think everyone likes the idea of a corn maze. People line up for miles outside the entrances. They’re willing to hand over 10 dollars per person to get in, which, if you measure money in the same way I do, is roughly three iced coffees. Yet the minute they cross the point of no return, once the entrance and any sign of clear land is replaced by a stretch of seemingly endless maize, you can’t get them out of there fast enough.
I witnessed this change of heart firsthand a couple of weeks ago. There are very few things you can do on Long Island once the beaches have closed. After spending two exhausting days at the mall, a few friends and I decided to head over to the same farm that I’ve frequented every October since kindergarten, and we somehow ended up in the corn maze line.
Maps and blue crayons in hand, my friends and I began our journey with at least mild enthusiasm. We were set out to follow that map faultlessly, tracing out each step. We were sure that we would finish in record time; that would be our reward. It didn’t take us long, though, to realize that it wasn’t going to be that easy. The shocking thing about corn is that all of the stalks look pretty similar. Matching a corner in real life to a corner drawn on a map gets complicated.
While we had originally planned on hitting all of the educational mystery spots in the maze (the theme was Roman civilization this year, and each spot had a gladiator’s helmet or something of the like for us to discover) and making our way out the way the creators intended, our goal was quickly replaced by a desire to find the exit, quickly. And we weren’t the only people feeling that way. You could see it on the faces of every parent we passed; all of those faces that had been smiling while they stood in line were now dripping with either frustration or resignation, depending on how long they’d been at it.
Where were we even rushing off to? Every single adult in the entire maze, myself included (although I hardly fit the category) was just dying to get out of there to go wash some dishes or sit on Facebook for 12 hours and then complain about how time flies by.
Kids don’t do that. For a child, every turn is a new discovery. Every opportunity to run is a chance to let out energy, an enjoyment in its own right. As my friends and I rounded a turn we’d inevitably passed a few times, we noticed a group of children all huddled around a Roman coin, giggling.
We could all use a little more child-like enthusiasm. As we grow up, we develop this habit of thinking ahead, of constantly feeling like there’s somewhere better to be or something more important to do. We lose the ability to live in the moment, but it’s that exact ability that makes banalities, like wandering in a field of endless crops, exciting.
For the rest of the day, I tried to appreciate my surroundings. I took note of the beautiful weather and of the fact that I wasn’t toiling away—or procrastinating—in the library. I took advantage of the opportunity to pay attention to the details around me: the smell of candied apples wafting about, the homage to the band Korn tagged on one of the stalks. I was surrounded by my friends from high school, a rare event, and I resolved to make the best of it. It was contagious. Although we agreed that it would have been more fun if a masked ghoul had been chasing us, we still managed to have a pretty good time in that corn maze.
I had forgotten what it’s like to let my inner kid go play in the mud—or the corn. As I completed my journey through the maze, I was reminded that it’s crucial that we all do this, even after we leave the college bubble. Halloween is a great time to start: just throw on a costume and do something ridiculous. Little kids don’t worry about how sexy they look in their cat costumes, and it doesn’t hurt for us to follow their lead. We have all the time in the world to be adults; let’s not forget to be kids, too.
Cummings is a member of the class of 2016.