People seem to be attracted to and often fascinated by anything that goes around in circles. Something starts in one place and ends up in the same place and starts again. Nascar, horse racing, Olympic track events, calendars, yoyos, midway rides, the flashing light on a police car, animal migrations, planets around the sun, roulette wheels, panoramic 360 degree photos, windmills, the revolving light on a lighthouse, Frisbees, helicopter rotors, juggling, crop circles.
The pattern of the circle is one of the oldest known images humans have ever consciously inscribed. All over the world there are petroglyphs with circular patterns that are tens of thousands of years old. Ancient monuments, such as Stonehenge or the medicine wheels of early Aboriginal peoples found across the American plains attest to the enduring significance of the circle as an important symbol deep within the human consciousness.
My own fascination with things going around in circles comes from laundry appliances. Having spend countless afternoons sitting in local Laundromats waiting for clothes to dry its hard not to be drawn into the continuous movement of the machines. Many times they were the only things moving as people sat patiently on the wooden benches reading their newspapers or books or just dozing in the white noise. It gets kind of hypnotic after a while.
One thing I always noticed was the efficiency of the spin cycle in the washing machines. The water was drawn out from the cloth fibers through the increasing pull of the centrifugal force of the spinning laundry tub. And the clothes, no matter what their composition were all forced against the sides of the tub until they were flattened and unrecognizable.
Reminds me of certain midway rides that pull you back into your seat. The challenge becomes being able to raise your arms against the forces that bind the body to the machine. Or consider the pilot flying a jet at incredible speed pulling against 3 or 4 gravities in order to operate the plane when it would be so much easier just to sit back in the seat and let the force have it’s way.
We all have conditions in our lives that have forces of their own. We are drawn again and again into repeating that which has become habitual without giving our actions too much consideration. And the faster our lives seem to become the less likely it is that we will reach out for the controls and change course.
Being an outsider is not a pleasant place to be. It is a lot easier to “go along to get along”. To follow some kind of arbitrary pattern that is more or less similar to what everybody else is doing.
But then again, as with the jet pilot, leaving one’s life up to the whims of gravity and chance may not be terribly rational even if it is the most comfortable at the time.
The Buddha taught about Right Effort for a reason. To escape the wheel of samsara some amount of effort is required.
Don’t let the force be with you, let it be against you.
Dead or Alive- You Spin me Round
[I love his hair-it looks like mine this morning-aarrrgggghhh!]