One could say there are three ways to live – in circles, lines, and spirals.
The circle is generally embraced by people who need a high degree of security. The circle represents their comfort zone. They like to keep a high degree of control so not a lot of new things get in. These new things include ideas, people, experiences, and attitudes. When it comes to possessions, new things can come in, but it tends to be hard to let things go, so it can get cluttered in there.
Living life in a circle isn’t the most effective strategy because the boundaries are so rigid that there isn’t a lot of growth. When problems occur, they don’t tend to get resolved. They just get shelved or ignored so they come back around again and again. It’s like living the same thing over and over again.
Some people prefer the security of the same thing because it’s predictable. The devil you know is easier to deal with than the devil you don’t know. So, they actually maintain the status quo, even if it’s not all that comfortable or exciting.
The line can be an actual path upward or a desired one. It’s rarely straight, but the goal is to keep going higher and higher. Fast and steep is seen as better than slow and gradual.
Most of us are conditioned to live life in a line. These are a series of events that take us to the next level. We’re in kindergarten, then first grade, then graduating from high school, then college, etc. As long as we keep progressing in an upward sloping line, we feel that we’re succeeding. Stopping, taking a detour, or abandoning the path are seen as failures. We also judge ourselves and others by how high up we are and how fast we’re climbing. It can feel like a race.
Living life as an upward sloping line isn’t that effective either because, as you will see in a minute, it defies nature. Nothing in nature moves in a straight line. It takes a lot of energy to maintain this trajectory and get enough momentum to move against gravity with any speed. This can lead to stress and burn out. It also means that life isn’t all that diverse because there is no room for meandering. Meandering means losing momentum. You have to sacrifice depth and breadth of life to be so focused too.
In nature life moves in a spiral. What this means is that there is a time of gestation, birth, maturation, decline, death, and space for lying fallow. It’s the wheel of life. As with the circle, things come back around again, but each time it meets you, you’re different. You have grown from the experiences in between the cycles. For example, you may experience love over and over again, but it’s not essentially the same relationship with the same problems and the same type of person. You may experience Thanksgiving with your family year after year, but what you get out of it is different each time.
Living in a circle or line requires a lot of control and willpower. Living in the spiral requires awareness, open mindedness, flexibility, and the ability to surrender. It also requires participation. When it’s time to rest, you rest. When it’s time to burst forth and being something new, you do that. There is no holding back. You can’t be passive. When you live in a spiral, life will take you where you are meant to be.
So how are you living? In a circle, live or spiral? If you’re not where you want to be, why not make a change.