Walking in circles sometimes has negative connotations. It conjures an image confusion, chaos, and an inability to commit to the right path forwards.
But what happens when the path IS circular?
I think this is a really helpful way to think about personal growth. It doesn’t happen in straight lines. It always happens in roundabouts, seasons, and loops.
The ‘Circular Hike’ is a great teacher. The end goal is to get back to the start. But the enjoyment is results from what happens along the way.
I went on a long walk with a couple of good friends last weekend, and it inspired me.
It’s a great metaphor of slow living, seasonal shifts, and the deep transformation that occurs over time.
The End Goal is The Starting Point
When you embark on a circular walk, your ultimate goal is to get back to where you started. But we all know that is not the purpose of such an activity. The sense of meaning is found en route.
We can learn a lot from this image, about what injects meaning into life. And how we might accidentally overlook the opportunities for growth and learning, because we are focussed on ‘getting to the end’.
Gentle Rebellion as Counter-Productivity
What is the point or purpose of going on a long walk?
None of the reasons we might respond with are quite enough to support it as an efficient or effective use of time. The fact you end up where you started is counter-productive in a most beautiful way.
The most efficient ways towards health, fresh air, social time, good views, and the pub, are not always the most meaningful, enjoyable, or creative.
Where else is this true in life?
The Waypoints Are the Whole Point
If we want a purposeful journey that we can relax into and enjoy, we need an idea of how to get to where we’re going. Which in this case, is back to where we already are.
A circular hike requires some kind of plan. We need to know where we’re going to travel so that we are able to find your way back to the start.
Waypoints anchor us along the path we have chosen to take. We know we’re on the right road because of certain recognisable signs that tell us we are.
I love this as a metaphor for life’s projects, hopes, and dreams. If we’re constantly thinking “I wonder if I’m going the right way” and second guessing ourselves, we run the real risk of getting stuck. Halting ourselves and chasing our tail. Unable to ever oscillate in a meaningful way.
Sometimes we engage with life a bit like this. We are so fixed on the idea of a destination (the end of the rainbow), that we can lose sight of the present. And we fail to identify the simple steps we can take through and past meaningful waypoints on our way back home.
We think that if we just keep going we will eventually land where we want to be. Yet chances of that happening are incredibly slim.
There’s Always a Way Back
Over time the anxiety and panic sets in. What am I doing? Where am I? All of this feels so unfamiliar and I don’t know which way to go.
But this is not the end of the matter. If we just stop for a moment, look up, and find ourselves on the map, there is always a way back. And even this will become part of that adventure.
Because the treasure is found right here, right now. The stories (getting lost), the views (looking up), the perspective (look how far I’ve come), that leave us fundamentally changed when we finally make it back to “the start”.