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Husband, father, grandfather, friend...a few of the roles acquired in 62 years of living.  I keep an upbeat attitude, loving humor and the singular freedom of a perfect laugh.  I don't let curmudgeons ruin my day; that only gives them power over me.  Having experienced death once, I no longer fear it, although I am still frightened by the process of dying.  I love to write because it allows me the freedom to vent those complex feelings that bounce restlessly off the walls of my mind; and express the beauty that can only be found within the human heart.

Astronomy Picture of the Day

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Circles and Echoes


Mother and daughter

Copyright © 2009 by Ralph Couey

"Even if we never meet or ever see each other again,
we have left our thumbprints in the thick, moist clay of each other's lives."
--Hugh Elliott

We often think about life in terms of a circle. Within that circle are the collection of experiences and characteristics that largely define us. As we move along through time, our circle crosses the boundaries of other circles, representing the interactions we have with others.

Some of our circles travel together for mere moments before moving on; never touching again. Others stay with us for decades. Those are the relationships most precious to us, for they are our trusted friends and those others with whom we share love. They become not only a part of our lives, but also a part of us. When their circle leaves ours, they take a part of us with them. And we are left a little emptier.

Life is a fluid state. Change is, in fact, it’s only stable component. As a result, the number of other circles sharing space with ours changes. When we make physical changes, such as a new school, job, or moving to a new city, we will get a whole new collection of circles. We also endure emotional changes, such as a death, the loss of a friendship or the end of a romance. In those cases, the separation of circles is difficult and painful, especially when we have to see them every day, knowing that they are no longer a part of us.

Yet, even as people leave our circles, they leave an echo of themselves behind. That echo takes up residence in the hope chest of our memories.

I’ve lived in a lot of places, and worked many jobs in my life. The string of acquaintances and friendships experienced along the way is, like yours, quite extensive. Some date back to childhood and adolescence; others more recent. At times, I encounter people from my past and I’m often amazed at how seamlessly their circle rejoins my own. Despite the years and the distance, we seem to take up right where we left off. And, beyond the wrinkles and gray hair, we’re amazed at how little has actually changed.
I guess the amazing thing is how much of our lives contain definitive bits and pieces of the people we’ve known throughout the years. Like a bread mix, every ingredient regardless of the amount, changes the loaf a little bit. A pinch too much flour, and it’s too dry. A smidgeon too little yeast and it won’t rise. The path of our lives, the way we look at the world, how we view ourselves; all steered, bumped, or nudged in different directions by our encounters with others. Likewise, we will probably never know how our influence may have altered other lives.

For good or bad, well or ill, we change each other in ways both dramatic and subtle. Even a chance encounter can mean a lot. We can help to create a better corner of the world by simply being more aware when our circles intersect each other.

And choosing that moment to be kind.
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