I sat last night at what was to be a dinner meeting to complete some committee work I will be prevented from doing while traveling next week and told my colleague about my novel. She and I have worked on the same independent physicians’ association for more than seven years. As life demands or constrains, we rarely have time to socialize because when we see each other, it is in the minutes before or after meetings. The break in the usual routine allowed us to select a local restaurant to have dinner. Given it was a Tuesday night, we had the luxury to camp the table. And we talked…and not only of my novel. We talked school and families and life transitions and our latest reads. We talked careers and homes. All the while I introduced her to my character. While listening to the narrative synopsis of the fictional life of Dr. Grace Franklin Pierce, she said, “I love how the story keeps folding back on itself and eating its own tail.”
The fascinating thing about life in general is that reality usually does have this remarkable way of folding back on itself and eating its own tail. You can’t get there from here unless you go through the in between. And while it is the THERE that you want, it is the THROUGH that makes it worthwhile. And it is the THROUGH that makes it genuine and authentic. You could once buy a diploma off a Cracker Jack box or a bubble gum wrapper; you can still buy a degree from the classified ads in the backs of magazines. You can be named an honorary graduate from an Ivy league school if you are famous but it is not equivalent to going through the rigors of the years needed to earn the degree. And getting something for nothing, when it usually requires something, lessens the value and significance. This is not to say that winning a fluke and random thing….that can only be WON….is not still thrilling. Who doesn’t love scratching off a Lotto ticket and winning $2 or another ticket…or more? But not all contests are luck of the draw or popularity contests. Not all contests are Miss Universe pageants, where everyone on the Sunday night stage has already won countless beauty contests to be in the running for the crown. Some contests are Joe Cain parades. And the winner is judged and selected based on merit, talent, originality or pluck.
And life does eat its own tail. There is an economy in that process and it is not to be confused with cannibalism. It is a nodal return to a grounding point. Life folds back on itself like a boat tethered to an anchor. You remember where you were going and get your bearings back. And so often, other people have folded back onto their own lives and end up standing at the same place as if spit from some reverse portkey. It is exciting and reassuring to find a new-old companion on the road with whom you may sojourn. Life folds back on itself over and over and over again like the layers of a puff pastry that can later be transformed into the most glorious croissant with a deft hand and a hot oven. And you never get a croissant unless the folds happen a hundred times. Over and over and over again….that is the ticket.