Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Straight Lines not Circles

As a young person I loved the "Choose Your Own Adventure" books.  I was convinced that I could make any decision, see if I liked the outcome, and then flip to a different page if I didn't (often this resulted in death by careening off of a cliff, but that seemed to be fine as well).  Repercussions from actions seem to get a bit heavier as I get older, but I'm also realizing that they probably deserve only to be given the same weight I gave them when I was younger--I don't recall spending a great deal of time agonizing over whether I should take the trek to the Amazon or fly to Rio.  At some point in the last decade I lost the spring to my coil, and my levels of resilience seem a bit low.  (This could be because as an adult, I'd like to change the page, but I can't simply flip at whim--now there are other factors beyond my control teaching me patience before allowing me to flip to my next adventure).

I was particularly struck by a line from Lorraine Hansberry's A Raisin in the Sun last week.  Asagai tells Beneatha that where she has gone wrong is seeing life as a circle on which we are trapped...and instead should be viewing this as a straight line moving beyond sight...and beyond the scope of our current understandings of what our lives can be:

       "What you just said about the circle.  It isn't a circle--it is simply a long line--as in geometry, you know, one that reaches into infinity.  And because we cannot see the end--we also cannot see how it changes.  And it is very odd but those who see the changes--who dream, who will not give up--are called idealists...and those who see only the circle, we call them the 'realists'!"  (p. 162).

And I've been wondering about this.  I trapped myself for a time in a narrative that didn't fit, but one that I couldn't see my way out of.  And now that I can, the line looms long in front of me--alternately full of huge possibility and alternately scary as shit.  I dwell in the possibility more often than the fear, thankfully.  And, for the first time in a long time, realize that I will continually be revising my path--that the circle I was in, despite being prescribed and condoned by society, wasn't really a good fit.  And it took a woman writer from the 1950s to give me a frame for even beginning to visualize this.


  1. Good stuff Lisa
    Fletch = John Frisch

  2. I used to see it as a circle, and I don't anymore. But I also do not see it as a line. Instead it is a Slinky, going around and around, but moving. We go through the same cycles over and over, but if we pay attention and are open, it is possible to notice and affect change in each cycle through awareness. Keep writing, Lady.

  3. I like that you made this blog.

  4. "Of course I hang on tight, she said. You can't believe the kind of stuff that happens when you let go."
    Story People