“If we just sit and exist, and understand that, I think it will be helpful in a world that seems like a record that’s going faster and faster, we’re spinning off the edge of the universe.” ~ Martin Scorsese
Life is like a set of spinning plates.
There’s a plate for our family, a plate for education and/or work, a plate for friends, a plate each for hobbies, a plate for any of our other commitments. And the business of a successful, or at the very least a functional life, is to keep them all spinning merrily in the air. Tending to them each in turn if we see them wobble.
It’s easy enough at first to get started. We start off as young children with only the family plate to spin. Then we add-in our play group friends, and later school.
As we go through life we gradually accumulate more plates to add to our balancing act. College, university, more sets of friends, job, partner, home.
I was always very proud of my plates, and how many of them I managed to keep going in the air, despite how I was occasionally too ambitious, took on too many things and so some of my plates inevitably fell and broke on the ground.
That was until last year and the height of my PTSD and depression, when I was wanting to kill myself. Then every single one of my plates came crashing spectacularly to the floor.
But now I’m getting better. And it feels like my life should be getting back to some semblance of what it was before. And I’ve struggled to understand why it’s so frustratingly difficult.
But it comes down to the fact that you can’t just start off spinning a dozen or so plates smoothly in the air all at the same time.
It’s almost as gradual a process to set them back up again as it was to get them started in the first place. Since you need to focus much more concentration on each individual plate to make it start to spin than you ever did to keep it going after you’d first got it up there. And some of the plates are going to be chipped, or a little different from before, and you have work out how to adjust them accordingly.
You need to be sure that each one is neatly balanced before turning your attention to the next; making this a painstaking process. And if you try to rush it you end up right back where you started.
You may also find that some of the plates will have been smashed up completely in the breakdown; and those may prove to be irreplaceable. If this is the case you need to sweep up the mess and throw it away. It’ll be hard enough to get your remaining plates back up and running without having to dance around the shards of past regrets to keep from getting hurt again.
And so we must maintain our concentration, in the hope that eventually our work will pay off, and that one day we have our full display up running again. That we’re done starting over again and can return to watchfulness, to just keeping our plates turning smoothly.
If we managed it once, we can do it again, right?