I enter the labyrinth but I am not prepared for a meditative experience. Within the small space of this room, we wind back and forth, following the path one after another. It could be a time to practice bringing mindfulness to the routine mindlessness of just getting through it. Instead, all I can do is notice that possibility before I get out my boarding pass and ID for the uniformed agent at the other end.
     We're heading home, leaving the National Indoor Field Hockey tournament and all its massive adrenaline and expectations to wash out with the tide of memory.
     Three days ago, Meg* and her teammates and a support crew of parents arrived, excited, big fish from a little pond ready to play with the best of the best for the first time in her club's history. Ahhh, the Richmond Convention Center: eight courts, one hundred and twelve teams averaging ten girls per team, parents, coaches, college scouts, timing clocks, whistles, air horns, athletic gear vendors, and fried food all contained in a lot of concrete. The girls were pumped. I was overwhelmed. We were naïve.
     As Meg's field hockey team began to lose, her teammates began to plummet into shock, self-blame and defeat. Their losses were stunning, especially the first day. I watched as some of them also lost their spirit, shaking their heads in disbelief, keeping their eyes cast down. They shrugged off their parents, sulked, sat alone between games. Somehow, Meg seemed unaffected.
     Meg is studying Buddhism at school. It's her final English class in her senior year. The way she's taken to it is like she's found her country: there are no strangers, and the climate suits her.
     “How are you doing?” I asked her, tentatively.
     “Fine,” she said. “I'm just more excited about playing than winning.” She was clearly out of sync with her teammates. “They're stuck in their heads,” she explained.
     That night in our generic hotel room, as I tiptoed around what I thought was the tender topic of losing, she summed up her take on the situation pretty directly.
     “We analyzed The Life of Pi in Buddhism, Mom, and now I'm kind of analyzing my life the same way. I think 'oh, interesting: I'm being mindful and not attaching to the dukkha here'”. (Dukkha, she explained, is suffering.) “People say 'does that mean you don't care about winning or losing?' Of course I care, but I can't do anything about what's already happened. I can try to play better, and hope we score and even win a game, but I have to live in the present.”
      I have a thing about hope, so I asked her about it. “Hope is not an attaching thing,” she said. “But having expectations totally is.”
     One way or another, most of the girls got to that point by the third and final day of play. They realized they were little fish in a really big pond, and dropped any expectations of winning anything. They played their hearts out that last day, hope flickering with every starting whistle, and they even managed to score a couple of goals.
     The whole weekend was a labyrinth of sorts. When I look back on where we ended up, it's not so far from where we started. But Meg was my teacher as we walked it, and sitting here on our plane to Maine, I am amazed and grateful to have this old soul as my daughter beside me.

*Meg is a pseudonym. I don't want to use my children's names. You understand.