Growing (?) in Circles – #SoCS

I love Stream of Consciousness Saturday (#SoCS)! And if readership, “likes”, and comments mean anything, you do, too

The prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday is “growth.” 

ohmygosh – GROWTH? Have any of you been reading anything of mine lately? I’ve sorta (just a little bit) stuck in “growth” mode.

But actually, that’s ok, because I’ve actually had a topic niggling at me for a bit, and I’ve just been waiting for the right day to work on it.

Et voila!

Now, I MAY need to slightly bend the SoCS rules because I think I want a couple visuals/illustrations. I’ll see if I can find something already out there that wil work, but I might need to draw something. Just throwing that out there in case you read this and think, “this does not look very stream of consciousness”. I promise I will follow the rules otherwise (and we’ll hope that isn’t PAINFULLY obvious).

I think I’ve been thinking about growth the wrong way.

For nearly 53 years…

I’ve thought of “growth” as a process of either climbing up or sliding back down an inclined plane:

Without getting into too much of the math (you’re welcome), the steepness of the inclined plane is determined by how high you want to go (rise), and how long you want to take to get there (run).

If you want to go REALLY high and get there REALLY fast, you get a REALLY steep incline.

(author points at self)

This is fine, except it sets you up for a LOT of sliding backwards. You get tired, man!

Well, anyway, I’m pitching the whole inclined plane concept RIGHT OUT THE FREAKING WINDOW. I got tired of:

  • never getting to the top
  • continually sliding down and then reclaiming lost ground

Especially for the perfectionists among us (author again points to self), this is just a self-defeating and endlessly frustrating model of growth, unless you completely eliminate any “rise” or assume you have 120 years to get there, both of which have proven impossible for me to adjust.

Time for a new model.

And it’s PROBABLY been done before, but I swear it just came to me this week as I was contemplating the cyclical nature of things, so I’m claiming this as original thought (at least until someone files a plagiarism suit against me).

Instead of thinking about “growth” as a constant climbing up (striving) and sliding down (failure and setback), I now think of it as a series of gradually smaller cycles/circles that hopefully move forward once a revolution has been completed.

When we are on a high, we all want to think we can keep that high and just move onward and upward from there (ok, well, I think that, anyway). I just want to bounce from the top of each circle to the next and deny that ANY of those circles are, in fact, CYCLES, and the bottoms WILL come.

And yeah, that’s no fun.

But it’s reality.

And the sooner we all realize that growth in our lives happens in cycles that have tops and bottoms, highs and lows, and is CIRCULAR in nature rather than LINEAR, the sooner we will begin to recognize the triggers and mechanisms in our lives that send us to the lower portion of the cycle and the sooner we will learn and develop skills and techniques that will send us back to the upper portion of the cycle. If we’ve learned anything from the current cycle, ideally the next journey through the cycle will be shorter (hence the smaller circle).

Some of us never get out of that first circle.

We become discouraged that life is “not as good/easy/happy as it SHOULD BE”, learn nothing from the cycle, and thus doom ourselves to repetition of the same, big, exhausting cycle.

Not all models are perfect, and all metaphors break down at some point, but let’s pull a couple additional observations out of the above diagram:

  • Notice as the circles/cycles get smaller/shorter, not only are you spending less time in the lows, the lows are not as low as previous lows. Again, there are going to be exceptions (there will ALWAYS be exceptions), but I think, as a rule, this holds true.
  • Notice (in this particular drawing – and I did it on purpose) as you move from cycle to cycle, the highs are not necessarily higher than previous highs. I think expecting each life lesson to take us to some higher plane of happiness or reality can be a recipe for disappointment and disillusionment. SOME CYCLES/LIFE LESSONS WILL ADVANCE US UPWARD, in mood, in status, in position, in personal fulfillment, in self-actualization, etc. Of course they will. That is part of the nature of growth. But MORE importantly, each cycle/lesson should move us FORWARD, and that is not always the same as UP, which is why I ditched the inclined plane model. This one makes more sense to me and reflects my reality better.
  • This diagram only had room for 5 cycles. Life has more than 5 cycles (sorry). And depending on what you’re going through, what you’ve been through, and what your ultimate destination is (hint, there is no ultimate destination), you have an indefinite number (dare I say infinite?) of cycles to go through. Stop being surprised when life cycles again.

OK, I think my stream of consciousness has run its course. If I were to work this through more and edit it, I’m sure there’s more, but I want to honor the exercise.

As I always (ALWAYS) say, this writing is for me. If you get something out of it, sweet. I won’t deny it, the validation is nice. I do hope something here resonated with you.

I’ll be back tomorrow. In the meantime, embrace your cycle of life. Figure out what it’s trying to teach you.

Move forward.

Repeat cycle.

#SoCS comes from the website of Linda G. Hill.

Here are the rules:

1. Your post must be stream of consciousness writing, meaning no editing (typos can be fixed), and minimal planning on what you’re going to write.

2. Your post can be as long or as short as you want it to be. One sentence – one thousand words. Fact, fiction, poetry – it doesn’t matter. Just let the words carry you along until you’re ready to stop.


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