A few days ago my sister-in-law Jenny sent me a video of my 3-year-old nephew playing his grandpa's electric guitar and singing Donovan's "Happiness Runs in a Circular Motion," only he pronounced "circular" "cir-cue-yar." It was cute and brilliant and the chorus of that song has been in my head, on repeat, for two days straight, including pronouncing circular, "cir-cue-yar."
This morning while I walked around Seward Park the musical ear worm was with me. I love the park, especially very early when there aren't too many people there. At 7am this morning, the park was pretty empty and I could sing aloud, repeating over and over, "Happiness runs in a cir-cue-yar motion." I felt happy.
Yesterday was a hard day. I crawled into bed at 2pm and only forced myself out for dinner. I felt a hopeless interminability to my existence. What was the point in planning a new yoga class or writing a new blog? These things that keep me anchored in some sort of structure felt meaningless as I looked into the abyss of the unknown. My attitude sucked and I indulged myself, giving myself permission to feel hopeless for a little while. But the hopelessness made me feel more hopeless, so today when I got up early and set out for a walk, I really wanted a better day.
The park, as always, was beautiful. I had my song and the image of my nephew singing it. The trees, fantastic always, are bursting into their spring foliage right now. Their colors and fragrances are vivid and potent. The massive trees are reaching out to each other, holding branch hands, all dressed up with streamers and confetti, inviting us, the wee walkers and runners and bikers underneath, to celebrate with them.
The park, I realized, is circular. If I didn't turn off the path to go home, I could stay in this circular motion indefinitely. I could stay on this happiness trail forever. And then I understood my despair from yesterday. I was looking for an end point, a definitive moment when "this" would be over and we would go back to life as we knew it. But life, just like happiness, runs in a circular motion. Right now, as we shelter-in-place, pressing pause on almost everything, we are in the dying phase of what we once knew and what we once had. That existence is dying and eventually it will be no more. And as we experience this passing of the old life, we are in the process of being reborn into something different, something better I hope.
Looking for a moment in time, a date that this process will end, doesn't work with the circular motion. As I walked in my circle, singing my song, it all made sense why I was so miserable yesterday. The full chorus of the Donovan song goes like this:
Happiness runs in a circular motion
Thought is like a little boat upon the sea
Everybody is a part of everything anyway
You can have everything if you let yourself be
"Everybody is a part of everything anyway. You can have everything if you let yourself be." That's the lesson. We're all part of this big circle of life, this big change that's happening to all of us. To cling to an impossible wish to know when this will be over is to not be part of everything. And in doing that, it is creating suffering, it is not letting myself be. I am so grateful to my nephew's musical genius and beautiful spirit and for sharing that song with me.