Many elements of our lives are repetitious, which leads Lorne Daniel to think life is not a straight path — it’s a spiral.
I repeat myself and wonder why.
Why do these journals I am writing contain the same catch phrases as the ones I dusted off from years ago? Why does this fitness plan I am scratching out on the calendar look like last year’s?
Once a month I go to the mailbox and with a fond chuckle discover the latest edition of Runner’s World. Each month I am greeted by a ripped and photoshopped young runner, surrounded by headlines that point to a healthy eating article, a race training schedule, a numbered list of running do’s or don’ts, a handful of advice columns and a feature article on someone who has overcome life’s obstacles through running. It’s a formula that, after a handful of issues, is as predictable as day and night.
Yet I sit down and read most issues cover to cover. There is little “new” here, so why? Why do I need this?
For the same reason, I suppose, that some people repeat mantras, or prayers. Beyond the comfort of ritual, we need repetition because we forget. Having learned something once does not mean we are set for life. How many times have you come smack up against the fact that you totally forgot a previously learned knowledge or skill? Would you like to go back and rewrite those high school exams?
Our memory is often cued – it depends on cues to prompt it, to jog it loose from the folds of our brains. So we set up cues – like magazine subscriptions – to keep our knowledge, our wisdom, our skills top of mind.
We also need repetition because we build upon, modify and fine tune our lives in the process of living them. As Yeats wrote in “The Second Coming”, we are “Turning and turning in the widening gyre.” Life is more like a spiral than a circle.
I may write myself the same reminders and motivational prompts this week as I wrote six months or six years ago. Yet they differ, because I am a (very slightly) different person now than I was when I first scribbled those phrases.
We slough off skin and grow new cells. We burn through our carbon and need to consume more. We are creatures that must move to stay alive. Move, then repeat that move, practice it again.
“Spiral” eylcefeliz @ Flickr.com. Creative Commons. Some Rights Reserved.
It’s a process that is not done until we are done.
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