circles are pointless

colored circles
beauty out of seeming chaos (travesty of melted crayons later illuminated by the rain & sun)

So far, 2015 seems to be a spiritual sabbatical for me.

Etymonline says this of sabbatical:  “related to sabbatical year (1590s) in Mosaic law, the seventh year, in which land was to remain untilled and debtors and slaves released.” That sounds about right. I started Powa Centre in Wellington in 2008, though I’ve essentially been teaching for 14 years.

Much of my focus this year is on reconciling debts & freeing myself from unneeded obligations. Because last year also involved freeing myself from unneeded things, handing over my studio & unmooring myself from any particular Place, I continue to feel unmoored–like a small cork bobbing on an endless sea. Wandering along wondering what’s the point of any & every-thing when I’ve so effectively excised myself from the usual points of human existence.

Identity seems precarious. Who am I if I’m not teaching yoga, not identified by self-created family & not living in one place? Seems everywhere I go one of the first questions I’m asked is, “Where are you from?” Sometimes I stumble. Sometimes I get frustrated. If I’m feeling aligned & ready for the question I’ll counter with my own questions:  “Do you mean where did I just come from? Or where was I born? Or what’s my philosophical platform?” One bus driver in Utah took these questions enthusiastically & wanted all the answers. He then asked me if I was LDS & when I had to ask him what that was, he knew I wasn’t (Latter Day Saints). That was part of my brief introduction into the main religions of Utah–Mormon & LDS.

While completely absorbed in my busy-ness of meeting bills & meeting people & meeting deadlines, even if I had questions about the point of existence, I had only surface energy to turn to them. Now, I have all of time to give to these ageless questions. And I seem to have found an answer in an episode of Bones on Netflix. Go figure. My mom wanted Netflix & someone had recommended Bones, so with absolute ignorance I watched the first episode in late January & have been addicted ever since. Which means I am nearly through 9 seasons in 3 months–that’s about 180 hours or roughly 2 hours/day spent watching a tv show when I’ve never owned a tv in my life! I can justify this binge by that fact–I’m making up for years of lost time parked in front of a screen. Or I can justify it by saying I’m learning an awful lot about anatomy & particulates & general murderous human behavior. Or I can justify it by saying I’m learning how to write a compelling story because obviously this story has lasted 9 years & still has an audience. At the very least it has this one ardent supporter.

And why does it compel me? In the same way that Shakespeare has done–by working on many levels at once. Bones often begins with a comedic discovery of the death story, then it parallels the murder theme with the theme that the main characters are exploring in their lives. There is a high language, however–unlike the poetic & often alliterative language of Shakespeare–this is the poetry of science. There are some plays/episodes that are comedic, some dramatic, and some even tragic. The producers vary these to keep the audience engaged over a long run. And then there are the bigger societal questions that are being asked–& perhaps this is ultimately what keeps me hooked. I’m curious to discover how they ask these questions in a way that doesn’t alienate or lose the mainstream audience–like slipping a questioning pill into someone’s drink. Interesting, at least to me.

But my point was that there is no point. Fisher is an intern working with Bones on identifying remains & he is morose with a dark sense of humour. On the episode I watched last night, he was a non-funny stand-up comedian & in one joke he says, “circles are pointless.” Bones, being the literal woman that she is, says “ah, I get it–circles are round so they have no point!” And then she laughs even though no one else does. I love her. By being so literal, she can show us Us. The way that autism generally can show us a societal symptom of sensitivity lost in the mechanization of humanity. She’s a genius that can come across as dumb, out-of-the loop & often hurtful simply because she says it so literally.

So circles are pointless. I teach in a circle because I have an unhappy thing with hierarchies & my understanding of the seasons is circular, or perhaps more spirallic. Yet circles are pointless because there is no Point of entry or exit–there is no beginning or end. Except the one we self-determine. Did my life begin at conception or at cutting the cord? Does it end at my last breath or when consciousness leaves my frame? Or beyond even these measures?

Not only is this year a rest for me–a way of letting my fields lie fallow–it also has happened to be filled with sacred healing ceremonies. In the First Nations they say the Sacred Hoop of existence needs mending–that the white man’s arrival on Turtle Island (what we now call the Americas) brought great (read devastating) change. Yet there are apparently some tribes who have prophecies that this tear in the hoop can be mended by the very same ones who tore it–the white folks. There’s another phrase in some First Nations that says to “walk in a Beauty Way.”

bryce canyon
hoodoos of Bryce Canyon, Utah

In my recent transit from the majesty of the hoodoos, canyons & mesas of Utah to the seeming chaos & filth of New York City, I grew weary & despondent. A friend reminded me that there is beauty & love everywhere, if we have the eyes & mind to recognize it.

So, yes, circles are pointless except in their Beauty. And that may be ultimately what saves us–learning to live life in-beauty. That puzzles me, but perhaps in puzzling over it, meditating on it, measuring it in my movements, I will begin to Be it. MYOGA these days involves some of the usual asana, pranayam, mantra & meditation, yet this seems to be my deeper, more driving, practice:

awakening each day to the eternal question of How can I see,

& then Be,

Beauty in a seemingly pointless world?

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11 thoughts on “circles are pointless”

  1. Such a lovely painter of words. A sweet way to start my day. From one bobbing cork to another. My general response to the question, “Where are you from?” is, “How far back you want to go?”

  2. circles are calculus and math doesn’t lie

    oh you said it with two ss. I guess they do have point mathematically.point as in point in space. everywhere they are.

    Im trying to find the circle because it is perfect.

    hawking believes there is no need for a god because there was no time before the big bang but what if the big bang was just a bump into another universe? maybe theres millions, billlions, trillions quadrillions, Infinite amounts of universes? maybe one huge infinite circle?

  3. I am just now learning a bit about my long lost sister– I’m trying to understand why some of us have been out of the loop.. Its a wonderful thing just to read your words , my sister melissa.

    Dad (Randall) would be so proud, he would just fall over.

  4. Wow… I have been thinking about this blog post since I first read it several weeks ago … it brought up a lot of emotions for me and it’s still hard for me to know exactly what to say, but here goes:

    You talk about freeing yourself but also feeling that identity is precarious and “wondering what’s the point of any & every-thing when I’ve so effectively excised myself from the usual points of human existence”. This is so important – the journey of discovering who we are if we are not defined by the job we do, the relationships we have, the things we possess. This is liberation … to go beyond the ego-mind, to be rather than do (a Human Being not a Human Doing 😉 ). You are on a Sabbatical, but also on your Hero’s Journey, I think!

    One theme that runs through your post is the idea of “point/ pointless”. I think these words could have two (or more) interpretations: the point of something as in its true meaning/ purpose; and the point of something as in an end or beginning point. If that is the case, then something (like a circle, or life itself) could both have no discernable point, as in it’s hard to see where it begins, and still be meaningful.

    Also, I just don’t like thinking of circles or life as pointless … it seems kind of a harsh, despairing word, and it brings up a feeling in me that feels like the opposite of freedom … Apparently the Buddha said “Just as we can know the ocean because it always tastes of salt, we can recognize enlightenment because it always tastes of freedom.” Ah, sweet (salty!) freedom 🙂

    It certainly is difficult (maybe impossible) to express in words what the point of life is (you need a number: 42!!! oh the late, great Douglas Adams, how I love him 🙂 ) But that doesn’t mean that life is pointless/ meaningless. Life IS, and we are Life … when I touch a tree or pat my cat, or look at a sky so blue that, as I think the Beatles sang, it blows my mind, there are no words to describe the wonderfulness of that … I could say Life – Love – Liberation – Oneness – Joy – Beauty … but really the words can’t encompass that because it is the whole Universe, and we are all One and all Connected.

    I love what you say about the “Beauty Way”. It reminded me of hearing Martha Beck use it as a sort of meditation, and I googled and found this quote:
    ‘ “There is beauty before me, and there is beauty behind me.
    There is beauty to my left, and there is beauty to my right.
    There is beauty above me, and there is beauty below me.
    There is beauty around me, and there is beauty within me.”
    Navajo Indian prayer chant, interpreted by Martha Beck’

    Circles are beautiful. I loved circles and spirals even before I moved to New Zealand (and like you, have an aversion to hierarchies, and the fact that you teach in a circle was one of the reasons I came to your yoga studio 🙂 ).

    From http://www.teara.govt.nz :
    “The koru, which is often used in Māori art as a symbol of creation, is based on the shape of an unfurling fern frond. Its circular shape conveys the idea of perpetual movement, and its inward coil suggests a return to the point of origin. The koru therefore symbolises the way in which life both changes and stays the same.”

    Much love to you, Melissa 🙂

    Anne xxx

    1. Again Anne, I apologize for the delay in seeing your response. It’s only in coming back here to write after a week or so of feeling that I have nothing to write–only because I have so much to write that I don’t know where to begin! As I’m about to post another few words to attempt to express the inexpressible (ah the puzzle of writing), I find your thoughtful comments. Thank you so much for contributing to this conversation even though you say it was hard to know how. So often I find myself stopped by the thought that I can’t quite get it, yet I learn so much when I ignore that & try to grapple with it anyway.

      And I love that prayer. It is true I am on some kind of journey–you are right in that! And when I say spiritual sabbatical I realize it can be interpreted in paradoxical ways. I can be taking a break from Spirit. Or I can be diving deeper into Spirit. However it might be defined I can’t really say at this stage, except that I do know it’s a journey. And perhaps a heroine’s journey.

      Much love right back to you dear Anne! I look forward to your boisterous hugs soon,
      Melissa

  5. To the eye circles do seems pointless, but if you dig deeper into the world of mathematics, you’ll find that circles are NOT pointless. Here is the more advanced definition of circle. CIRCLE- An infinite number of points equidistant from a point. Since it is National Pi Day, I got to dig deeper into this matter.

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