Last summer I decided to take a huge step out of my comfort zone. I studied abroad in Costa Rica for a month, until then, I had never flown, been out of the country, and had never been away from home for longer than six days. I didn’t know anyone else going on the trip, and my professors were natives to Costa Rica, so it was difficult to follow lectures. Despite these difficulties, I wanted to explore a world different from my own conventional life, away from family and friends, away from high speed internet and cell phone reception, and away from shopping malls and commercial buildings. I did just that. However, while there, I found myself in a personal maze. The library is universally known as a symbol of knowledge. In today’s society, knowledge is readily available in all forms, making it very accessible for people to acquire it. Ironically, in “The Name of the Rose” this way of thinking is reversed. Truth and knowledge is withheld from the layman, for fear of self-formulated ideas against the Catholic Church. In a conversation between Adso and Brother William, Adso conveys his concern on the issue, “And is a library, then, an instrument not for distributing the truth but for delaying its appearance?” (pp. 286). The labyrinth in the library is used to keep knowledge from the “unworthy”, to defend the knowledge held within it in an attempt to preserve the church’s control over Western civilization. It was built with the idea of restricting people from entering. The strange mirrors placed in positions which distorts anyone who looks into it, the incense which invokes visions upon smelling, and of course the intricate maze. Brother William and Adso find themselves lost in this labyrinth several times. I found myself in a similar situation during my stay in Costa Rica. Overwhelmed with the foreign country, new people, different classes, and away from the comfort of my family, I walked myself right into an emotional labyrinth. The labyrinth in the library, and the labyrinth in my mind, though distinctly different in structure, both prevented something; independence. Denying people truth and knowledge, denies them the freedom of thinking for themselves, though I never lost the entitlement of thinking for myself, I lost the ability to think clearly, free from distractions and anxieties. Anxiety was something I struggled with for a couple of weeks, until an unexpected experience led me to find the way out of my emotional state. One day I decided to venture into town to find an internet café to Skype with my mom and sisters. Having never been to the town before, I was forced to use my Spanish speaking skills to locate the café in a short amount of time, because class was to start in promptly 30 minutes. Walking alone in the streets of this foreign country, with my laptop on my back, in the pouring rain, being chased by dogs in the streets, and yelled at by policemen, I looked like a complete foreigner and I found myself at the very heart of my mental labyrinth. All control had been stripped away, leaving me feeling defenseless, and I eventually broke down in a quiet cry at the corner of a street. Earlier, I noticed a group of men leaned up on the side of a bar watching me in my panicked frenzy. While I was crying I failed to recognize one of them had walked up to me, asking me my name, and telling me to talk to him. There was a moment of realization, after I had seen the man, and before I said anything, when I finally understood that control is not something I can have at all the times, there comes a point in time when you have to simply let go. So I decided to let go, to open up, to take a leap and trust a strange man smoking a cigarette on the side of a shady bar in the heart of Costa Rica. Obviously, because I am sitting here writing this paper, the man was not a serial killer; he was a legitimate kind man, who helped me find the café. Mentally, I was set free from my anxieties through this experience, and it was in doing so, I found my way out of the maze.
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