Folyosó Winter 2021–2022 - Page 3

The Decisive Straight Labyrinth

Lili Forgács

I had almost finished. Just one more question, or at most two. The middle-aged ladies who interviewed me were really nice. Both of them smiled; the blond one noted down something I said before, the other one, wearing glasses, looked at me and sipped from her mug. She was drinking coffee, I could smell it.

“Well, Ms Johnston, we are almost done,” the blondy broke the silence while organizing her papers on the desk. “Your CV sounds really appealing, you  seem to meet all the requirements, but before you get the job, you have to give an answer to this simple question: What is a straight labyrinth?” At this final part, she lifted her head and looked me in the eyes.

“A straight labyrinth?” I asked back in a shaking voice, feeling all the colour running out of my face. I knew I had broken the image, with that simple sign of desperation, I had built up so far: the ambitious and self-assured woman who can answer all the questions that are asked. Now, I was just sitting there, in front of the two nodding ladies, left speechless.

“Please, answer it now or never, we cannot sit here and wait all day,” one of them said after a few moments. I don’t know which one, I couldn’t see anything, I just felt my brain working. Come on Lydia Johnston, let’s say something clever. But I couldn’t. I started panicking. What if I ruin everything at the very end? I couldn’t stand it.

“Khm” clearing my voice is a good start I guess. “I think the straight labyrinth is nothing else but… life,” I said out loud the first thing that came into my mind. I didn’t care about the interviewers’ reaction, just continued. “At the beginning of life we all know what the end will be: death. Everybody dies, we cannot avoid or run away from it. That’s a straight road. However, none of us goes along that one. Every decision we make leads to the final destination, but on different routes. There are no alike routes, as there are no alike people. We cannot tell who is on the right way and who is not. Is there a right way or a bad way at all? Can we distinguish them? I don’t know, and I don’t know either if it counts in the end which I chose, as we all will leave the bus at the same stop. But I want to go along the labyrinth on my way. The way of which I will be proud on the day I die.”

As I finished I got no response. The two women just sat in front of me without any movement or speech. I just heard their breathings and counted mine. Maybe I was too passionate. I might have said something that I wasn’t supposed to. Or I might have misunderstood the task. I was having such thoughts when the two ladies nodded at each other and said simultaneously: “Welcome to the New York Times, Ms. Johnston.”

What to Write?

Laura Móra

I asked many of my classmates what they were going to write about, because I had no idea at first. Most of them said that they just compared the straight labyrinth to life, but it was too ordinary for me. So I kept thinking about what I should write about, even in other classes. Every time I had a good idea, I overthought it and it became a bad idea, as it wasn’t special enough or the answer didn’t suit my personality and I always found some mistake in it. Then I realized that it was the straight labyrinth itself: I have an idea of what to write, and I know what I want the end of the story to be, but I don’t know the middle of the text. I could go so many ways, I could go in one direction, but after a wrong sentence in a story I couldn’t continue it, just like dead end in a labyrinth. So in the middle of the story I have to find the way out, just as in the labyrinth, but after reading it, it is straight: it has a beginning, a middle part and an end, yet it is more complicated than that.

Crazy Garden Pipes

Kázmér Ádám Kaposvári

We have all seen pictures and videos of gardens that just blow our minds, maybe because of their beauty, complexity, the variety in the vegetation, or the many many exotic plants. We all wish we had a garden like that.

I live in a house with a rather big yard, but let me tell you, it is not even near the standards for being on a magazine page. When we take a look at these perfect landscapes we never think of the hard work that goes into them and the struggle of the people who tend to them. Even now I can remember the renovation of our lawn as it was full of burnt-out yellow patches. My father and I thought we would be ready after a few days of work. Well, it turned out to be a whole month after all. First, one of the automatic underground sprinklers was not functioning. After digging it up and patching up a little crack in the pipeline, we removed the top layer of dead grass, then filled it up with fresh humus and new grass seeds. At this point it seemed so easy and we had a straight plan. But as soon as we began to test the water systems, the real search in the labyrinth began. At not one, but multiple points over the field of dry land, circles of darker dirt appeared. This meant the worst: we had made leaks in the pipes while removing the top layer of grass. It took us weeks to uncover and dig up every last one of the cracks, but furthermore, we found many old pipe connectors that were already leaking some water as they had been degrading over time.

As of today it looks fine, but back then it was like a crazy maze that had no way out no matter how hard we were searching.

A Strange Dream

Hunor Gangel

So, please tell me about your dream and your evening that day — said the therapist to Serena.

— It was like any other night. After having dinner I sat down in the living room to watch some TV. Then when my favorite show ended I went to bed because I had to go to work early the next day. I usually don’t remember my dreams but this one was different. I remember it perfectly. So after I fell asleep, I found myself in a sort of dungeon. It was very strange, since it was a straight corridor with a glowing exit sign at the end, with three gates separating me from it.

— A corridor with gates and an exit sign? — asked the therapist while scribbling something on a pad. — Yeah, I know it’s very strange — said Serena.

— Please continue with the dream.

— Alright, where was I? Oh right, the gates.

— So there were also two passages to the side next to each gate with signs showing that the keys of the gate were to be found there. After observing my situation, I was determined to get out of there. After some deliberation I decided to go into one of the passages and was surprised to find out it was a labyrinth. After wandering through it for some time I found a key lying on the floor. I assumed it was for the gate, so I went back to it. I tried to open the gate but to my surprise it had two keyholes. I thought “Great, now I have to go into the other passage as well.” So I did. It was also a labyrinth, very similar to the previous one but with a different layout. After finding the end, I quickly took the key and rushed back to the gate to open it. I was delighted for a second when it opened, but this quickly changed to dread when I saw that at the end of the next two passages there were puzzles. One of them was one of those puzzles where you have to slide tiles to make out a picture, but with numbers, and I had to arrange them in ascending order. I solved that one pretty easily, but it was the other puzzle that had me worried. It was sudoku, which I always sucked at. Luckily after a lot of struggling I felt something in my pocket that wasn’t there before. It was a piece of paper with the solution to the puzzle.

— A piece of paper with the solution just appeared in your pocket? — said the therapist, raising an eyebrow.

— Yes — said Serena.

— Alright, let’s just continue with your dream.

— OK. So after I solved the sudoku puzzle, a slot opened with the key inside it, and the same happened with the other puzzle as well. After opening the gate with my two new keys, I was prepared to find the worst obstacles in the next passages next to the last gate, but it was even worse than that. One of the sides had a free key, but the other one was an obstacle course just like in ninja warrior, but with spikes under it. After some reasoning I decided to go for it and try to do the course, since it was all a dream. That was the worst decision I ever made. After nearly failing the first obstacle, the dream started feeling very real. I lost my balance and tripped over. Then I started falling towards the spiky floor. Before hitting the floor I woke up in a cold sweat. Since then I have barely been able to sleep.

— Hmm. What was that show you watched before going to sleep?

— It was Ninja Warrior, — said Serena, a bit surprised by the connection the therapist made.

— Maybe you should try watching less TV and going to sleep at the same time every night, and let’s see how your sleeping habits change.

Two Lives

Helka Ondok

Amelia Smith was an eighteen-year-old girl who had the “perfect” life. She had a great family and social life, she was a good student, and she played the sport she loved. But underneath it all, she was not happy. All she wanted to do was to fall asleep and find her true happiness in her dreams.

She never thought that her depression could get this bad. She felt guilty, because even though she had everything, she still dreamt about not existing.

Carlos Hart was an old man. Life had always been cruel to him. He had never had a family or a constant job. He spent most of his days alone, or with some new people he had met that day. His life was like a maze, where he didn’t know whether the next day would be better or not, but after all of this, he still fell in love with life.

Even though they had completely different lives, when their time came, they walked through the same door, in the direction of the bright light which led them towards the unknown.

Office of the Labyrinth

Gréta Tóth

Welcome! Please sit back and relax until we take care of your documents. I will be back in a few minutes. Enjoy your time here!

— Excuse me Sir, wait please. What is this place and why am I here?

— I’m afraid that I am not the right person to tell you. — and with that, the blond man hurried away towards a long, narrow corridor which seemed never-ending compared to the small, light-filled room that offered only a coffee table and a comfortable couch. The walls were painted light yellow, similar to the color of the sun on a bright day in May. Everything felt warm and peaceful.

— Samuel Anderson! — the man, who hurried away a few seconds ago, called out from the very end of the corridor. — The principal is ready to meet you. — The assistant waited patiently until the young man reached the office, and opened the door for him. This room was much bigger than the previous one, but it radiated the same calm energy. Next to the door, huge bookshelves stood piled with leather-covered journals and books. The other side of the room was occupied by an enormous tree whose branches covered the whole ceiling.

— Good morning, Sammy! — a familiar man greeted Sam as he entered the room. He knew he had seen him before. Even the nickname seemed close: he could recall his mother calling him Sammy when he was young, yet there was no way this man could have known about it. — You have grown so much since I last saw you here. How old are you exactly?

— I just turned 18 a few days ago. Excuse me, Sir, but….

— Oh dear — the man interrupted Sam before he could say anything. — I really wished we would meet quite a few years later.

— But why? And where am I? What is this place? — Sam was in complete confusion, but he still felt calm. He did not mind being here, even though he had no clue about anything.

— Deep down, I really hoped that I would never have to explain it to you. Sammy, do you know what a labyrinth is, apart from a maze where you can get lost? — The young man decided to shake his head instead of answering, eager to get the answers to his questions as soon as possible. — Well, your life is a labyrinth that you build up. There are constantly problems and events in one’s life that create the labyrinth. Every possible solution is represented by a new direction in which you can travel. The only rule is that you have to make a decision before you can go and continue your life. Sometimes, accidents happen and the labyrinths are destroyed by someone else, which means that a person had no other choice and it was not a result of a wrong turn in the maze, or they still have a chance to make another turn, they just need some directions. If these accidents happen, people are sent to us and we have the right to influence the outcome of the situation. About seventeen years ago, a terrible car crash happened caused by a drunk driver. Only a boy was sent to us, since he still had a small chance of survival, but both parents died on the spot. The community decided to revive his labyrinth, and Samuel Anderson was sent back to Earth.

— So I was here seventeen years ago? And you sent me back? Is that even possible? If it is, then why am I here now?

— Because you violated the only rule of the maze: the ‘Straight Labyrinth’ — said the man with warm eyes, looking at him with as much love as if Sam were his own son.

— Straight Labyrinth? — Sam was completely lost at this point. So much new information at a time, and it all seemed unbelievable.

— In a labyrinth you have to take turns every now and then, sometimes there are hundreds of roads that you can pick or just two, it does not matter. Going straight in the labyrinth means that you did not make a choice at all and you got lost in your life. — Sam still did not understand what the man was trying to say, but what he said next took him by surprise.

— This morning, around 5:40, you attempted to end your own life by jumping off a bridge in your neighbourhood.— and it all suddenly came flashing back to Sam. The sadness, all the pain he had suffered, all the discrimination and bullying in school for not having parents. He was still lost in his thoughts when the man continued: — By this, you broke the straight labyrinth rule, which is basically that you cannot just exit the maze even if it is hard, you have to keep on fighting with all your strength. Sammy, I know that these past years have been horrible, but you still cannot take away a whole life from yourself. So many bright things could happen in the future. Think about your aunt and uncle, or what about your cousins or your friends?

— But why am I still here? How did I end up here again? I jumped off the bridge, I remember the water filling my lungs and the silence which followed.

— Luckily, a fisherman was nearby, and even though he could not go up to stop you, he immediately called for help. Right now, you are in the hospital floating between life and death. Look, I cannot send you back anymore because of your rule breaking. You have to be strong enough and fight for yourself. Do it for your mom and dad; make them proud! They are always there with you. Now go, show the world that you are not a rule-breaker, you just made the wrong turn in the labyrinth.

And with that, the office with the tall man, with the books and the calming atmosphere disappeared and was slowly replaced by the sound of a happy uncle and aunt, as the long lost boy returned to his home, his labyrinth, where he still had so many things to do and so many right and left turns to make.

Causal Determinism

Gergely Sülye

If you have ever pondered life’s greatest questions, you have most likely stumbled upon the topic of free will. This question has a lot of branches, most commonly popularized by Libet’s, very flawed, experiment, which focused on disproving free will via explaining how consciousness itself is a fake phenomenon. True or not, that’s still not the most exciting direction to take; after all, it doesn’t take much to realize your brain is a really complicated string of dominoes reacting to stimulus in intricate processes, and even if we can’t pinpoint what’s really going on, we can still reasonably guess everything works based on cause and effect. No need for experiments there.

Now, what would make things really exciting would be to broaden our horizons and look at a bigger picture, the universe as a whole. Well, actually, to explain things fast let’s shrink back our perspectives just for a bit.

In this very moment imagine you held a set of dice. Now throw it. Now, with a bit more creativity, imagine a time machine that can turn back time. One that has its own set of rules, mainly that it can’t bring anything back, so it can only roll time itself back to a specific point. Let’s say that point was a few seconds ago when you first threw the dice. Unsurprisingly, the number you get would be the same. Of course the “past you” wouldn’t be aware that time was rerolled.

Now roll time back to yesterday, or earlier, and so on and so forth, even to the beginning of the universe. If we let it play out, since we have not changed absolutely anything about the past by rerolling time, everything would turn out exactly the same if we waited enough time. You would roll the same number.

Your life plays out the same, everything is unchanged. This means that at the earliest point we can rewind time to, the beginning of the universe, whatever that event might have been, at that exact moment your entire life, or more broadly the fate of the entire world was determined. Your every thought, movement, down to the exact location of every atom or particle in the entire universe.

So the next time you think you are about to face a life-changing decision, contrary to what popular science fiction might have you believe, you aren’t about to create split-realities where alternate things have happened. Whatever conclusion you arrive at will be the one and only possible choice you ever had. And now you can make peace with that fact or have an existential crisis about it.

The Obstinate Boy

Bertalan Szegi

Our story begins on a rainy Sunday afternoon. Most of the people are just relaxing and enjoying the last few hours of the weekend, watching tv, playing video games, or simply sleeping. 

But a guy whose name is Josh is sitting at his desk and trying to understand the math homework. His math teacher said that if they solve it and get a good solution they will be awarded a good grade. Some of Josh’s classmates have already solved it, and they are happy, because everyone got the same answer, but Josh didn’t want to get any sort of help. He is a strange guy, someone who would rather get a bad grade, or do something wrong, than let other people help him. In other words he is aloof and obstinate.

Josh had been working on his math homework the whole weekend. Fortunately he was able to start it, and following his method he could get a good solution, but he made a mistake while trying to rearrange the equation and didn’t realise it afterwards. Now just as he was about to get a result for the homework, he started to realise that something had gone wrong when he arrived at a negative number for the time. He was so upset, because he had thought that his solution would be perfect. While searching for his mistake, he didn’t even realize that it was almost 8 p.m. The next day he had to go to school early in the morning, because he had a 0th lesson, but he wanted to get a good solution before going to sleep. The other people in the class got a solution, but Josh would never ask them for help; he decided not to sleep until he got the good solution. But as the hours went by, he became very tired, and totally forgot about the next day. Approximately at 3 a.m. Josh fell asleep at his desk, and slept until 12 o’clock. When he woke up, he was so angry, because he was late for school, and not able to do the homework.  His parents were so angry, because they thought that he didn’t want to go to school. And all of his work was in vain.

This situation wouldn’t have happened if Josh had asked for help. He had overcomplicated a simple exercise. Also, it’s bad to ask for help right at the beginning, before trying to solve the problem yourself, but Josh went to the other extreme by putting all of his energy into it.

The Confidence of Simplicity

Áron Antal

We are born innocent and unknowing of our surroundings, and we become who we are by being exposed to the world. At least that’s what I think, even though some of my elder family members might disagree with me on this issue. My grandpa always told me that all people carry some of their personality traits when they are born, and nothing can change them. He thinks this because my mom and her brother differ greatly; while my mother was helpful, understanding, clever and followed the rules, my uncle always got himself into trouble, didn’t play by the rules, and barely finished secondary school. Still, both of them grew up to be great adults, exceedingly good at their jobs.

But when my mother and my uncle were growing up, well, life was much easier back then. For me it would have been. No rat-race life, fewer things to worry about, more freedom, no cellphones, and the list could go on. Yet our long-forgotten ancestors would say that when they used to live, there were no cars, no trains, no airplanes, no public utilities. The fact of the matter is that circumstances have become more comfortable yet more complex over time as human civilizations thrived and progressed. And with great comfort comes great dependency.

In today’s society, we have less free time, rush here, go there, buy things and so on. We want happiness, friends, people that admire us, fame and beauty in true 21st century fashion.

What greatly disappoints me nowadays is the fact that more and more people are becoming so self-centered, maybe thanks to radical improvements on the one hand and quarantine on the other, that they stop caring about each other. Or maybe these people show caring sometimes, but mostly so that they can get affection from others. Such people are manipulative and greedy. They always try to come across as the best, the cleverest, the most beautiful, and they know they are not, but still, they can’t bear the slightest kind of confrontation or being faced with the sheer reality of situations, though their methods of “self defense” might differ greatly. They are lost in their imaginary worlds, where everything is perfect, nothing they say is wrong, and they are totally in control of their lives. They usually rack their brain for hours on end over things that in the long run will not matter, and they love to complain.

Maybe my emotional intelligence is just too high, maybe I am more advanced in mind than I should be for my almost seventeen years spent on this little wet ball of mud, so unimaginably small compared to the universe. Yet, maybe I am wrong, why should I be right, because no one can truly understand life. It just seems to me that a lot of people just waste this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Because life is much more simple than most people interpret it to be. Unlike anything else, such as banking, relationships etc, life has one big certainty; if you were born, you will die. That is life basically. However, between you being born and you dying, only uncertain events will unfold and happen, uncertain events that are non-predetermined, and you will get the chance to turn them into opportunities towards living your life as truly as possible. Next time you go on a trip, travel, or do something, just try to admire what is happening to you, and try to grasp the fact that each and every nanosecond of your life cannot be repeated. Try to focus, understand, help others, learn to love yourself, accept failure, learn to express yourself, explore what life has to offer and make your choices dependent on only the people that really matter to you and to yourself. Don’t worry about everything, don’t be afraid to back out of things, do something that other people disagree with. Just one important thing that you should bear in mind: try not to hurt anyone. And remember: whatever happens, happens. These are the principles that I live by.

Yet it would seem that some people are incapable of changing, and I accept that. But I just feel a bit lost in this world, and always ask myself the question: how can people live, with their minds so closed? Maybe I will never understand, and I am fine with that, as long as I am confident in what my life stands for.

Searching for a Thought

Eszter Aletta Hevesi