Going in Circles

I've been thinking about the difference between "cycles" and "going around in circles."

Life definitely has its cycles, its seasons. This is natural. We grow and change and yet certain seasons come again and again. A little different each time, but very recognizable. Summer is here (in the Southern US, anyway) and with it comes all the joys we remember from summers past. Sunshine, flowers, sand between the toes, fun in the water, staying up late because we don't have to get up early, planning a vacation. The smell of newly cut grass, of honeysuckle, that steamy hot and wet smell that rises from the streets after a brief rain shower. Popsicles. The pool with its wet towels, the sound of flip flops flip flopping around the pool deck. And the headaches, too - the air conditioning going on the fritz, tempers rising with the temperature, lightning strikes, fleas on the pets, mosquitoes and poison ivy. But we know that these will pass and that another season's joys and headaches will come 'round again. This is all reassuring. The sun keeps rising and setting; God is in heaven and all is right with the world.

And of course the other seasons return again as well, not only the "natural" seasons of spring and summer, winter and fall, but also the seasons of grieving, of growing, the excitement of new friends and new experiences and new relationships. These return to us, too, even if not on a predictable schedule, and we remember them. Oh yes, this is what that tickle in the pit of the stomach feels like. I remember. I remember that time when I thought I would die if I didn't get to see my camp girlfriends/[insert name here] ever again. I remember how long it took to get over that snub, that hurt, that failure. But I will get over it, as I did then. I have to remember that I got past the pain, that the fresh and beautiful comes round again.

There there's "going around in circles." Either because we're lost or because we're stuck. In this case, when we come back to the familiar, we are not happy to greet it. Wait, we already did this. We were already in this place, we're back where we started, we didn't get anywhere, we didn't go where we wanted or meant to go. Here we go again, and we don't have confidence that we'll get anywhere this time, either. Can we get off? Or will that just leave us standing still?

I suppose like everything else we have to have some balance and some perspective. Sometimes we may have to try and just enjoy the ride even if it is circular - and yet know when it's time to get off or stop and ask directions or just strike out in another direction. And sometimes we have to "don't just do something, stand there!" (as Murray Bowen said). Like everything else this calls for discernment and patience. I think I need a refill.