Sunday, March 27, 2011
LIFE LESSONS FROM THE MERRY-GO-ROUND
Around its perimeter is a sunken, circular path even the weeds have learned to avoid. What would it take to scuff away the earth like that? How many feet? How many seasons? How many generations?
And where were they all going?
Just in circles.
The other day, I took a ride on the well-loved merry-go-round in our neighborhood park, pondering the usefulness of going in circles. And it occurred to me there are different ways to ride a merry-go-round...
For some, the merry-go-round promises flight. You hang on tight as you slowly begin to turn, anticipating what's to come. Your heart races as you gather life speed and suddenly the world is a blur. You stand... you sit... you lean out... defying the centrifugal pull to center. You close your eyes to meet the wind head-on.
You are dizzy with freedom... and you are merry.
For others, the merry-go-round is something else entirely. Going in circles is going nowhere. It's a matter of inefficiency and waste... lacking the necessary concept of "shortest distance." The swirl is out of focus, chaotic, nauseating, uncontrollable... something that needs to be stopped. But it never stops. It goes round, round, round.
It is a rut with weeds.
Yet, for all of us, the merry-go-round promises discovery. As the cycle repeats, never changing direction nor diameter, our senses align to the closed circle we're in. We sense space by moving through it. We sense time by a familiar flash point on the horizon. We are aware of nuances around us made possible only through the perseverance of the circle. Revolution by revolution, we test what we're made of and transform our world view... refining and learning as we go.
It's the same ride for all, but how we live it is our choice.
Children know this instinctively, living and learning in circles while the rest of the world endeavors to straighten the path for them. Parents call these milestones. Teachers call these outcomes. But a straight line, by its very physics, has a finish. Circles, like learning, have no end and real learning -- the stuff that sticks with you -- never takes the shortest route.
And, yes, the ride will make you dizzy.
Learn as you GO.
Live in the ROUND.