Life is tough for all of us, at times, and this has been especially true in the past two years.
How can we develop ways of thinking that might ease our way along some of the difficult paths of life?
Here are some thoughts that may be of help……
- Be Aware Of The Fact That Life Is Made Up Of Circles And Spirals.
Color Study of Squares and Circles – (Wassily Kandinsky)Wikioo.
“There are patterns which emerge in one’s life, circling and returning anew, an endless variation of a theme”
Circles in a Circle – (Wassily Kandinsky)Wikioo.
“I don’t believe that life is linear. I think of it as circles – concentric circles that connect.”
We are all part of the Circle of Life. We are all born and we are all going to die. We will, every one of us, age, and we will all struggle with the limitations of our biology.
Knowing this helps us to negotiate the bad times, and value the good. It shows us that our lives will change, that nothing is permanent, that we are all subject to the same spiral of uncertainties.
It is important that we are conscious of the fact that we are connected to each other on so many levels, for we are all part of the Human Condition.
The Human Condition. Rene Magritte. 1933. Wikioo.
“Every person lives bounded by the structural formation of human anatomy and the provincial demands of the human condition.”
Kilroy J. Oldster
“Without art, the crudeness of reality would make the world unbearable.”
George Bernard Shaw
We cannot change this fact, that all of us are powerless to direct the universe, or alter this reality, and we learn that we only have limited control of life.
However, accepting this truth is somehow freeing. If we stop trying to control things, we will discover that we are more able to live and enjoy life.
It is through this acceptance of the human condition, that we are, paradoxically, freer to change ourselves and to have some impact on the world around us.
Life is an unpredictable blend of happiness and sadness, conflict and peace, as the world, and our lives, go round and round, and on and on…..
Spiral Galaxy.Multiwavelength M81. 30 May 200. Source:https://www.spitzer.caltech.edu/image/sig07-009-multiwavelength-m81. Wikimedia Commons.
“When I die I’m going to dance first in all the galaxies…I’m gonna play and dance and sing.”
With such awareness, we can come to understand that, despite tragedy, life can still hold beauty for us.
Whatever happens, the world miraculously, and reassuringly, continues to move round and we learn that all things will change.
Creation of the World III. Mikalojus Konstantinas Ciurlionis.1906. Wikioo.
“We are not going in circles, we are going upwards. The path is a spiral; we have already climbed many steps.”
This knowledge, that we are moving round in an upwards trajectory, helps us to be strong and resilient and to have the courage to face the limitations of our human condition.
Winnicott’s words are highly relevant here:
“The catastrophe you fear will happen has already happened.”
This quotation alerts us to the fact that our deepest fears in adulthood will have had their roots in an early experience of trauma that has already occurred.
Even though we may not remember the ‘catastrophe’ exactly, as trauma is often repressed, if we experience current feelings of terror, this will likely indicate that something painful happened to us.
We survived it then, when we were children, perhaps with little, if any, support or comfort, so we can do so now, in adulthood.
- Seeing The Patterns……
We are not only connected with each other as human beings, but with the whole of the Universe; this is all part of the circle of life. We see patterns, circular and spiral, in everything.
Van Gogh.Sunflowers. 1887. Wikimedia Commons.
“The Fibonacci Sequence turns out to be the key to understanding how nature designs… and is… a part of the same ubiquitous music of the spheres that builds harmony into atoms, molecules, crystals, shells, suns and galaxies and makes the Universe sing.”
Diagram Of The Geological Time Spiral.Graham, Joseph, Newman,
William, and Stacy, John, 2008. Wikimedia Commons.
“Every particular in nature, a leaf, a drop, a crystal, a moment of time is related to the whole, and partakes of the perfection of the whole.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Tree roots and tree trunks. Van Gogh. Wikimedia Commons.
“When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world.”
“The life of man is a self-evolving circle.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson
This is ‘the rhythm of life.’ Appreciating that we are part of an enormous rhythm can only help us as we traverse the spirals that make up our life’s path.
Each time we stumble, we learn how to negotiate another obstacle, so that we can travel higher and further along the many circles of life.
Author possibly Joost Metsys. Clock face with scenes of the 12 months and a portrait of his brothers Joost, Quinten and Jan Massys, in Louvain. Date: between 1490 and 1510. Wikimedia Commons.
“It’s the circle of life, and it moves us all, through despair and hope, through faith and love, ’till we find our place, on the path unwinding.”
Elton John, ‘Circle Of Life’.
The Big Way. Friedensreich Hundertwasser. 1955. Wikioo.
“A circle is the reflection of eternity. It has no beginning and it has no end – and if you put several circles over each other, then you get a spiral.”
Maynard James Keenan
August Macke. Garden At Gartenbild.. Wikimedia Commons.
“The whole universe is based on rhythms. Everything happens in circles, in spirals.”
Coming round ‘full circle’ is, inevitably, something we all experience in our lives.
“I’m conscious of a series of circles working its way through my life. And at this particular moment I have come round to the beginning of my writing cycle. It begins with poetry. There’s hardly a day that goes past on which I don’t write poetry.”
I find that, in retirement, I have revisited many of the interests that I had in childhood, such as writing and art, but I now can benefit from whole new ways of seeing and thinking, garnered throughout the years.
“Time was not passing…it was turning in a circle.”
Gabriel Garcia Marquez
This is, for us all, a constant refining of skills and ideas learnt years ago, a process that will continue to the end of life.
“Life is a full circle, widening until it joins the circle motions of the infinite.”
It is good to look back and identify one’s own spiralling paths, and it is reassuring to know that we will often have chances in life to revisit issues and tasks, to refine them, to gain some mastery and deeper understanding.
It can be encouraging to survey our life’s journey and reflect on the changes.
2. We Need To Choose Our Own Path
Vassily Kandinsky, 1940 – Around the circle. Wikimedia Commons.
“The path to our destination is not always a straight one. We go down the wrong road, we get lost, we turn back. Maybe it doesn’t matter which road we embark on. Maybe what matters is that we embark.”
Within the circle of life, there are many paths we can take, roads that may lead to the same place eventually. We could call these the ‘scenic routes’ of life.
Ultimately, we will in some way return to the beginning, with years of new knowledge and awareness.
“What we call the beginning is often the end. And to make an end is to make a beginning. The end is where we start from.”
T. S. Eliot
As we come across the many different routes, it is then that we have choices. The choices are infinite. No two people take the same path through life.
If we do not make these choices, we may end up feeling lost and ‘at sea.’
“The road ahead is not some predetermined path that I am forced to tread, but it is a rich byway that I can help create.”
Craig D. Lounsbrough
Finding new paths involves coping with uncertainty and venturing into the unknown, but without taking such risks at some points in our life, we would remain static.
“I’m afraid of committing myself,” she thought to herself. She wanted to follow all possible paths and so ended up following none.”
Finding our own path is about knowing who we are, what we want in life and what is the direction of our interest, our passions and skills. In what ways can we can contribute most to the world around us?
We will all, inevitably, stumble, but these ‘falls’ may be the times in our life when we learn the most, even though they may feel like dark periods in our life.
Dark Mountain Landscape. Emile Nolde. Wikioo.
“Darkness doesn’t mean the path doesn’t exist.”
Vineet Raj Kapoor
Other Directions. Lys Hansen. 2007. Wikioo.
“There are no wrong turnings. Only paths we had not known we were meant to walk.”
Guy Gavriel Kay
Choosing a path in life takes courage; it is, inevitably, a risk. However, we will never know which direction in life is the ‘right’ one for us, unless we try it, and make the brave decision to move into a new area.
“They aren’t roadblocks. They’re signposts.”
“There are moments in our lives, there are moments in a day, when we seem to see beyond the usual. Such are the moments of our greatest happiness. Such are the moments of our greatest wisdom. If one could but recall his vision by some sort of sign. It was in this hope that the arts were invented. Sign-posts on the way to what may be. Sign-posts toward greater knowledge.”
We create our own paths, through our choices and decisions in life. Sometimes, choosing ‘the path less travelled’ may be fruitful; it can promote creativity and different ways of thinking.
“Don’t keep forever on the public road, going only where others have gone.”
Alexander Graham Bell
- We need to know that other people’s paths have equal value.
“It’s one thing to feel that you are on the right path, but it’s another to think yours is the only path.”
Crossroads at l’Hermitage, Pontoise. Camille Pissarro. Wikioo.
“Everyone’s journey is their own. It would never be right of me to tell others what methods work best for them.”
Jessica Marie Baumgartner
Vegetable Fields: 1911. August Macke. Wikimedia Commons.
“All of us travel our own path to personal truth. Some arrive to it early on and some a bit later. Never criticize another’s path , because you don’t know where it all began for them.”
Christine E. Szymanski
Awareness of difference and diversity are crucially important as we journey on, in order that we can be accepting of others’ choices.
“When we stop judging others, we set ourselves on the path of our own progress.”
There will, inevitably, be meeting points along the road. We will come across other travellers, some who will pass us by, others who will give us a bumpy ride, and yet others who will clear the way, calming and healing us.
Path in the garden by August Macke. Wikimedia Commons.
Ram Dass described life as a journey, on which “We’re all just walking each other home.”
Each person we meet has some influence on us, leaving an impression on our minds and, at times, in our hearts.
“We all take different paths in life, but no matter where we go, we take a little of each other everywhere.”
4. We Will Meet Ourselves Repeatedly Along The Path
“We meet ourselves time and again in a thousand disguises on the path of life.”
Meeting People. August Macke. Wikimedia Commons.
“What you seek is seeking you.”
What do the concepts of seeking and meeting ourselves along the path of life mean? So many wise people have told us this, in many ways…..
August Macke. Walking In The Park. Wikimedia Commons.
“Walk on your own path, and finally meet yourself.”
Christine E. Szymanski
We meet different aspects of ourselves in others. Consciously or unconsciously, we will detect in the other people we come across in life, parts of ourselves that we may need to face, ones that we have denied.
We need to re-own and take back the projections that we have put onto others.
(For a fuller explanation of this process, please click here: previous post.)
Along the way, we will experience all that life has to offer, good and bad. We will, inevitably, change.
“What you’re missing is that the path itself changes you.”
As we move through the circle of life, there will be times when we find places of peace, people we feel happy with, oases of calm and healing.
These we must treasure, as the memory of them, or their presence, can nourish us during the hard times.
Promenade: 1914 August Macke. Wikimedia Commons.
“We are all joined in a circle of stories.”
Linda Joy Myers.
Paál László – 1875 – Untitled (Sunset in the forest)Oil on canvas. Wikimedia Commons.
“In the mid–path of my life, I woke to find myself in a dark wood,’ writes Dante, in The Divine Comedy, beginning a quest that will lead to transformation and redemption. A journey through the dark of the woods is a motif common to fairy tales: young heroes set off through the perilous forest in order to reach their destiny, or they find themselves abandoned there, cast off and left for dead.
The road is long and treacherous, prowled by wolves, ghosts, and wizards — but helpers also appear along the way, good fairies and animal guides, often cloaked in unlikely disguises. The hero’s task is to tell friend from foe, and to keep walking steadily onward.”
“We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.”
I do hope you have gained from reading this, my first post of 2022. If you have, please become a follower of the path of my blog, ways of thinking! Just press the ‘follow’ prompt to receive regular weekly updates straight to your inbox.
Many thanks! Linda.❤️