A labyrinth is not a maze. It is a circular, winding path with an entrance, a center and an exit. Labyrinths date back to ancient Greece, and are used for meditation. You walk its switchbacks with patient, deliberated steps, and you leave your troubles and worries in the turns.
I learned this, as I learn most every important thing, from The Dude. Jeff Bridges, a solid-gone labyrinth aficionado, explains labyrinths to pretty much anyone who will listen (he even does so on his official website: JeffBridges.com/labyrinth). When I saw the Big Lebowski star walking a labyrinth on an episode of the PBS show American Masters, I knew this was a behavior I had to adopt—along with the bowling, the White Russians and the benign indifference. Hell, the first thing I did when I moved into my Vegas house was buy a rug to “tie the room together.” I am a Dudeist in my bones.
I never expected to find a labyrinth in Las Vegas, let alone one in my own neighborhood. The labyrinth at Huntridge Circle Park is unusual for several reasons, not least of which is that it’s in a public park. Most labyrinths are adjoined to churches and healing centers. (Another Vegas labyrinth exists at the San Martin campus of St. Rose Dominican Hospitals, on the town’s southwest side.) It’s rare to find one outside of such places—and for Vegas to have a labyrinth sitting pretty much in the geographic center of town demonstrates, once again, this city’s bottomless capacity to surprise.
The Huntridge Circle Park labyrinth, added during the 2003 redesign of the park by architect Kasey Baker, is a red earthen labyrinth cut into the park’s north end with a tree at the center. Grass is growing inside the labyrinth’s turns; sadly, much of it is dead right now. Still, when I discovered the labyrinth, I could scarcely believe my luck. A labyrinth? In downtown Las Vegas? I began walking it immediately—and I have done so every Friday, Saturday and Sunday (the three days the park is open, for now), reveling in its circular perfection. To paraphrase Jeff Lebowski, it’s a Swiss fuckin’ watch.
Upon discovering the labyrinth, I thought I’d stumbled on something that everyone else knew about. But to my surprise, few people I’ve spoken with, even in downtown Vegas, know it’s there. This is a feature that is not only a rarity in Las Vegas parks, but in city parks, full stop.
Though it runs contrary to my selfish desire to have this thing all to myself, I want you to check out the labyrinth. Bring your woes and anxieties and walk them off, nice and slow. And don’t believe all the sky-is-falling horseshit about Huntridge Circle being overrun with the homeless. They are there, yes, but their numbers are small and they mind their business.
Ultimately, I would ask you to hear what The Dude has to say on the matter. In a 2011 interview with the Hollywood Reporter’s Stephen Galloway, Bridges excitedly drew a labyrinth in the reporter’s notebook, saying, “In a maze it’s, ‘Which way do I go?’ You want to get lost. But with a labyrinth, there’s a pattern. … You think you’re constantly getting close, then going farther away. But you know you’re going to get there in the end.” In other words, the labyrinth abides.