A friend I had used to say I was overly fond of analogies. I concede the point. There are many things that the more I compare them, the more comparisons suggest themselves, and the funnier and more perfect it seems, until everything is wrapped up in this analogy! So I perhaps used them over much. I tried to tone them down since then.
But this one was just too strong.
This is a slow motion video of paint flying off in rotation; it’s short, but very beautiful. I clicked on it out of curiosity because it said “blending art and science,” and looked interesting/beautiful. It was that. But the first thing I thought when that paint started spinning off was, this is my life!
This is harder than most analogies to describe. The paint colors mix and swirl, spinning off in all different directions, splattering and spiraling outwards from the center. The centripetal motion makes it want to cling to the middle and not spiral off, but the centrifugal motion overrides it and pulls it out into the world. So I don’t mean it in a bad way, I mean it in the way that life pulls us out of ourselves, the effects we have spread outwards and outwards, trying to stay the same, but changing and spreading. What effects on other people and other parts of the world spiral away? You cannot see this beautiful spiral from the middle, only from the outside. It is using itself up as it goes, as the paint spreads out from the center, leaving its mark, and then shortly, it is over, and it has made a pattern as it spun and also left some marks of that behind. I tend to think only of the middle realm and the area immediately surrounding, as I go day-to-day, where my energy originates and I cling to myself to some extent. But the video made me think about not only the whole picture, and the push and pull of these forces between clinging and expanding, but what kind of effects those far-flung bits of paint have on other people’s lives that I don’t even know about.
A long time ago, half a lifetime ago almost, one of my college assignments was to define happiness. In less than 2 pages. If you’ve followed my blog at all you can probably imagine this was quite a challenge for me in length alone :). But one of the three things I put down as a factor in my own happiness was making a positive impact in other people’s lives. This is probably the most difficult aspect of personal happiness for me, because the effect is very uncertain… you can do what you will but you can’t necessarily control the outcome in other people’s lives… sometimes a nice gesture will backfire or the negatives you bring to a situation will outweigh the positives. Sometimes, you won’t even know if there was an effect, let alone a good one. So part of my happiness, one factor of it, was in fact dependent on other people’s happiness.
When I think of the paint swirling out and the colors spiraling out in my life, which is lately seeming to rush by faster and faster as I get older, I wonder about those impacts I’ve had. I can’t list them, for I don’t know the impact I’ve had on many people. Perhaps I am not even a passing thought for most, let alone a positive impact. For me, I tend to focus my energy on a select few at any given time, because more is simply too exhausting, but for most people I know, they have a swirl of many, many people that they interact with lightly all the time, and I am but one of those. In many cases, I am also only one of those of long ago, existing only in memory. They may have too much in their presents to linger over one small memory of the past. Or perhaps they choose not to because the effect was not positive after all. I simply don’t know. All I know is how it feels on my end to try to make the positive impact, and I do not know if it leads that person to impact someone else, and someone else, and someone else, and keeps rippling outward, or if they forget about it in the next breath. Maybe, the positive feeling lingers as one of those bright color spots, even if they don’t remember the interaction with me at all, and that might be the best way. As for me, perhaps the paint analogy spoke to me because I’ve been feeling nostalgic of late, and remembering all the people who left their own bright mark on me, and it made me wonder happily if I might have done the same on some people’s lives.