Walking in circles

When my husband worked in New York, we used to walk to a nearby grocery and in the sidewalk outside their door was a circle of bird footprints. Forever fixed there in the cement. A permanent record of this one bird’s confused journey to nowhere.

Or perhaps it wasn’t confused at all. How would I know? I am not a bird. It is possible this bird knew exactly why it was going in a circle.

Circles take us back to places we’ve been before, and I am a fan of revisiting places and people. There is a lot of pressure in life to go ever forward, to make “progress.” That may work for some, but I find circling back to the familiar comforting and challenging, familiar and revealing all at once.

As I leave one calendar year and enter another, I hope to keep circling past people and places I’ve seen before, even as I discover new things. Sometimes when you circle past pain you find healing, when you revisit resentment you can find forgiveness, when you return to the times you were inadequate you find that you are, in fact, enough.

When I first saw it I laughed. Not so much at the bird, but more because that circle made me think of what my journey must look like from such a vantage point, from above looking down. Am I going in a straight line? A circle? Am I going anywhere?

When you live your life in circles, you can keep people with you that you’ve met the last times around. People who are lovely and frustrating and mean and generous and who can teach you things about life that no one can learn on their own. Most of what I’ve learned about myself and about life I’ve learned from the people in my circles.

Round and round we go.

Happy New Year. May your life take you where you need to go and I hope you circle around to me as you go about your way.

Unexpected Wisdom

I love (most) graffiti. As public art it isn’t always invited, and sometimes it is offensive. But for that reason, it is also provocative and many times insightful. On a recent trip to New York I saw graffiti that was beautiful…

…and some had good advice…

And then, as (almost) always, there was one that helped me think about myself in a different way, and (especially) see the next person I encountered on the street in a different way.

Proceed to the Route

I am sure I am not the only person who thinks Siri, the mistress of our iPhones, is passive aggressive. Especially when giving directions. It’s that flat, unaffected tone that reminds you to make the turn she told you to make 30 seconds ago. Or 3 seconds ago. She’s not worked up about it, but she knows you are always on the verge of doing the wrong thing.

Like the thing she does when you’ve asked her for directions and, on your way, stop for gas or decide in your own human mind to make a different turn…”Proceed to the route.”

She keeps saying it until you get back on track (her track) or shut her down.

Proceed to the route.
Proceed to the route.
Proceed to the route.

When you eventually follow her instructions, she doesn’t reward you with even a monotone, “Well done.”

Once, on a road trip, my husband and I switched to a British male voice for our directions. He sounded nicer and I call him Jasper. Maybe he sounded nicer because his voice was unfamiliar and I hadn’t yet attributed the judginess to him when he questioned our driving decisions.

But he still said, “Proceed to the route.”

So now I’m thinking I could adopt this phrase. It is perfect for so many occasions.
Proceed to the route, child who is watching videos instead of doing laundry.
Proceed to the route, you who are spending too much time in the condiment aisle instead of stocking up on the toilet paper we need.
Proceed to the route, Spam Likely, whoever you are.
Proceed to the route, annoying ad that interrupted my YouTube video.

I’m hoping I can deliver this phrase in the same tone of voice as Siri. No emotion, but also no giving in. The route. Proceed to it.