Turtle's Progress

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

The Geometry of Life

Have you ever noticed how we often use geometrical terms to describe our lives or how our lives intersect (see!) with others? I have been thinking about this lately and thought it might be interesting to look at it a little further.

There is a certain symmetry between my life and the lives of both of my daughters. Erin and I both married military men just five months before our 21st birthdays and took off to travel far from our homes. We both gave birth to our first child (girls) about five years later and became stay-at-home moms. Both of my daughters were military kids who lived all over the world for the first 12 years of their lives before we finally settled in Alabama. Somehow, Meghan’s life also fell in step with mine when she made the decision after college to move to California. At 21 years old she returned to live and work in the same California county I had left nearly a quarter century earlier. She first lived with her grandparents in the same home I had moved from so long ago. Where Erin is living parts of the life I actually had, Meghan is probably living the life I would have lived had I not left California.

Erin and her best friend, Samantha, seem to be living parallel lives. Not in the sense that their lives don’t intersect because they certainly do, but because they are so similar. They are both Early Childhood Educators, married to Air Force Officers who teach at the Air Force Academy, live blocks from each other, and gave birth to their first children (daughters) in October of last year. They met through their husbands about five years ago and began to see the similarities in their lives right off. Joyce and I also saw lots of parallels in our lives when we first met so many years ago – we had the same birthday, we were California women married to southern men, we loved to shop in thrift stores, our children were the same ages.

Some people’s lives seem to be a circle. They start out in one place (geographical or otherwise), move far from that place, and often end up right back where they started. My friend, Judy, has lived such a life. Living in rural Alabama during the “Jim Crow” south, her mother wanted more for her only child and sent her to a boarding high school in North Carolina. From there Judy went to college in California and moved into the corporate world in New York where she became a prize-winning writer, magazine editor, and radio talk show host. She lived her adult life in the “Big Apple” but as she was about to turn 50 she found herself back in Alabama becoming her mother’s caretaker. Just as her mother loved her enough to send her out of the life she would have lived if she had stayed in Alabama, Judy loved her mother enough to return to that life when her mother needed her the most. Her mother died a few years ago but Judy has remained and made a life for herself here in Alabama. A life in the same place she had left so long ago but far different than what it would have been had she not made the big circle away and then back again.

My sister, both of my daughters and I form what we call our “Circle of Trust”. If one of us knows something, then the others will soon know as well. When I told my daughters about my melanoma and my sister found out from one of them rather than from me, I got an immediate call… what’s going on? how are you doing?... If one of us gets good news, it’s good news for all of us, and any concern for one of us is a concern for all of us.

Triangles are a pretty obvious and well-used geometric analogy, usually in a negative way. We hear about, see, and live “love triangles” in abundance. But triangles can be seen in other relationships as well. If my children had just one friend come over to visit when they were young things just seemed to be out of balance – somebody was always being left out and feelings were hurt.

And sometimes the same point on the line of life can lead people in different directions. In the fall of 1973 at the party my family gave to celebrate my upcoming marriage and moving away, my Uncle Jerry pulled me aside to tell me that no one knew yet but he was about to end his marriage.

Many things about the “geometry of life” might be chalked up by some to be mere coincidence but if I remember my geometry book correctly I think that it means something geometrical when things “coincide”…..


At 6:08 PM, Anonymous Lori said...

I so enjoy reading anything you write. It always make me think.
Thanks for that Ter

At 6:14 PM, Anonymous Samantha said...

Yay I made your blog! Can't wait to see you when you are back in Monument!

At 6:17 PM, Blogger erin said...

I don't think I'll ever use those terms again without thikning of my mama's blog. If I haven't said it lately, I'm so glad you're blogging!

At 6:59 AM, Blogger A.K. said...

Wow, that was an awesome blog. It definitely made me stop and think about life and how we are all intertwined together. Great job!

At 12:37 PM, Blogger Meghan said...

Mom that blog was really awesome, what a neat perspective on the relationships in our lives! Thanks for making me think!


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