Circles and Cycles
A circle has no beginning and no end. Our world, our solar system, our universe, even life itself, are all about circles. The moon circles the earth, the earth circles the sun, the sun circles the center of the Milky Way and the Milky Way circles the center of the universe. Everything in circles.
It’s the middle of the summer, yet autumn is waiting just beyond the slant of the sun. The death of summer will give life to autumn and the death of autumn gives birth to winter. Seasons are a circle in the cycle of our lives.
We can celebrate the birth of a new season and pine the passing of another. The circle of the seasons turns slowly, but the seasons pass quickly. It seems only yesterday we were shivering in the early spring rain, now the summer sun lasts forever and its power heats each day. Before I can blink, autumn’s breath will paint the trees and so the circle of time so beautifully deceives.
I thought I had more time than I did. Summer’s here and autumn is just moments away, Christmas will be here in the blink of an eye…and we’ll start all over again. The cycles of seasons in the circles of life seem neverending.
Our lives are circles too. Rich or poor, black or white, Christian, Jew, or Muslim, it does not matter. We all share at least three things: we are all born and we will all die and we all breathe the same air. The circle of life revolves from birth to death for each of us, no matter who we are. Not one of us can escape the endless circle.
As summer approaches, autumn approaches too. When summer ends, autumn is born, and winter is just a tick of the clock away. When Winter approaches, spring is just a blink away. And the cycles and the circles of the universe continue within us and without us.
I find myself reflecting on where I stand in my circle of life. If my circle of life was a clock would the bell be tolling 9 PM or 10 PM? It could even be later than that. I cannot see the hands on the face of the clock that rests in the center of my cycle in the circle of life.
It may be much closer to midnight than I imagine. Or, midnight might be several hours away. One thing I know for sure, it’s not morning anymore. Or is it? On the clock of life, my life is now in the late evening. If my life were a cycle of the seasons, it would surely be autumn. But is it early-autumn, when the days and nights are of equal length, or is it late autumn where the nights are long and the days are short? Or do I stand somewhere in between? I cannot know because I cannot see the date on the clock or date on the calendar that lies in the center of my circle of life.
I waste time as if I had all the time in the world. The face of the clock in the middle of the circle of my life is shrouded in a mist so thick I cannot see it. I don’t want to see it anyway. I’m afraid to see where the hands of the clock are pointing.
I hear the clock ticking behind me. The house is dark and quiet. The clock has just chimed eleven times. Tick, tick, tick, tick, tick, each second ticking away. The hands on the clock don’t seem to move when I watch them. But when I turn away and look back the clock’s hands tell me it is now 11:06. Where did those six minutes go?
It’s late and I want to sleep. I imagine the circumference of the circle of my life as if it were bounded by a river. When my life’s journey began the river flowed lazily; a soft meandering stream, barely a ripple could be seen in the slow current. There were only a few ripples as the river passed through some narrow canyons along the way. The river flowed so slowly that I barely knew I was moving.
The raft on which I travel is floating on more turbulent waters now and the river is flowing faster and faster and faster through the ethereal and enigmatic realm of the rapids of time. I just passed through a land of green trees, emerald grass, and beautiful flowers of every color. But now the trees aren’t so green. The leaves look old and tired and ready to die. Some are already red and yellow – colorful death throes; a signal that time is passing more quickly on this river. The water isn’t placid anymore, it is foamy and white and buzzing with the sound of a waterfall in the distance. I cannot tell how far it is, but I know it is there because I can hear it. And, I know I cannot escape its cataracts. It is only a matter of time before its thundering cascades take me and I plunge into the dark abyss that awaits beneath the fall.
I cannot get off of the boat I am on and I cannot leave the river that flows at the edge of the circle of my life. The circles and cycles on the river of my life are unchangeable. I can only go with the flow of the river.
And the waterfall up ahead- the one I cannot escape – must not distract me from making the most of what is left of my journey. Sometimes it is hard to ignore the sound of the falls just ahead, but I must or the thought will paralyze me. And I cannot allow that to happen. I have so much more I want to do and see on this river.
I like to think once the waterfall crushes me and ends my life that I will wake up on another raft right back on the river, right back where I started – in the peaceful, placid, still water, in the springtime of life. Even if I did I would never know it because I would never remember my previous journey. The waterfall will claim me and the river will flow on and on without me. I will be out of time and the hands on the face on the circle of the clock of my life will be stuck at midnight — forever.
The moon is circling above. The clock’s hands circle its face. Each tick, tick, tick of the clock moves the hands a little closer to midnight.
I travel in the cycle in my circle of life and you in yours. It’s the middle of summer which means that autumn is near. And everything is a circle in the cycle of my life. And everything is in a universe that is, no doubt, unfolding exactly as it should.
“Birth and death are one
Pattern of repeating.
Yet never really meeting…”