Writing Out Loud: Circle or Rectangle?

By George Stahl

The facets and phases of our lives can be enough to confuse the most intelligent people. Imagine how the rest of us feel. In the movie, The Lion King it was referred to as the Circle of Life. When you look closer though and maybe a little sideways, it seems more like the rectangle of life. A circle is a continuous line that laps itself each time it makes a complete orbit. Going from womb to tomb does not have any semblance to a circle at all. It is stretched, tilted, elongated, and sometimes, bent way out of shape, and hardly ever crosses back over itself in exactly the same way.

We start our journey following the life span of a single egg/sperm union. Wow! Talk about the Big Bang Theory. Houston, we have docking. Ok, enough analogies, now the embryo. Then the fetus, then the baby is all together waiting in the womb, ready to see the world of his or her parental units. That went really fast, we don’t have space to fit in 9 months of baby gestation. So, skip a little more, finally, with a loud cry from mom, a shout out to ‘push’ from the doctor, and a bellowing scream from the guest of honor, another human enters the world.

We get all checked out, things are counted. What should be multiples are, and what should be singular, well, they are too, err, also. We are a complete mini person.

We are going to use time lapse writing. We are in our crib, the bed we sleep in, not our house, and we are ready to wake up from a good two hours night sleep. Hey, we’re a few months old. We don’t sleep through the night yet. That’ll come in a few more weeks. Here in our story is where we start to compare, now and 80 years from now, so try to keep up.

We are opening our eyes, we toss over onto our side and realize we can’t move. We immediately react. We cry like a banshee until somebody comes in and rolls us over and helps us out of bed.

Next, we look around and we are not sure where we are. So, yep, we start to cry again. The lady holding us, pats our back and tells us it’s okay. We believe her for some reason, maybe because she is called our mom, and we calm down. We don’t know her really, this stranger, but we’re okay with that. Things feel right.

Now, we are hungry. A whole different sort of cry comes out. It’s deeper, angrier, and more of a desperate feeling. We demand to be fed.

We get something in a bottle, and it is forced at us. We don’t care for the method, but we are hungry, so we take it, and start sucking on the rubber thing at the end of the bottle. We get food. That bottle goes empty fast, and we feel pretty good, except, something is happening in our stomach, and we are getting a cramp you would not believe. What do we do? Cry! It worked for everything else so far.

The mom lady, who we are beginning to suspect has something to do with caring for us, slings us over her shoulder, pats our shoulder blades, and causing gases to rise from deep within us, we give out a huge noise and then relief. Wow, that was satisfying, we think. We hope we do that again.

Suddenly, another rumbling from within our body, and something else gives out a loud noise and, oops. Hey nice lady, how ya gonna deal with this? I don’t see this one being a shoulder move, and definitely there will be no slinging going on here.

A few hours later, and it’s time for that crib again. Only, this time, we are not feeling the sleep. We want to stay awake and not miss anything. Then as if out of nowhere, bam! We are getting drowsy…we are feeling heavy eyelids and we are determined to fight it off. Sleep means missing time, and we can’t do that. We have so much to learn. Well, that once, nice mom lady, puts us on our back in the jail of a crib, and leaves us there, to just wallow and cry and scream and kick until we loose consciousness. Boom, we’re out. The same scenario, only 80 years later. Then we will not be kicking so much, we will not fight, we will not cry and we will not scream. We just fall asleep, and we gladly go off into an unconscious state of napping. We realize by then, we have nothing to miss and can always learn another time.

Follow this, several years go by since our life in a crib. We have seen a lot, we have done a lot, we have laughed and cried a lot. Going off into many directions, some willingly, some maybe not so much, but we have managed to come back to the corner of the rectangle we started from. Looking around at where we are and who are with and who we have in our lives, we realize that a circle would have been sort of boring, the rectangle of life is far more gratifying and exciting. Being knocked around in a stretched out square sure beats relapsing over our lives in a circle.

A nice lady, not mom, comes into the room, we look around and so far, we know where we are, and we know who she is. Look at that. We are getting food, and we didn’t have to cry for it. Wonder what else we’ll be getting that we don’t have to cry for? Whatever it is, we’re sure it’s going to be okay. How can it not be? After all, we’re still inside our happy rectangle.