Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Sine or circle

One of my favorite singers and song writers is the late Harry Chapin. I first heard of him when his "hit", Taxi, made it to popular radio stations in the early 1970s. I like Taxi, but it was sometime later in the 70s when I listened to some of his other songs and found him so engaging. I went to hear him play near Buffalo in 76 or 77 and he seemed so ingenuous and genuinely caring. Then, in October 1979 he came to sing at the small college I worked for at the time--SUNY Fredonia. At the end of that night he had the audience in a tizzy.

It is difficult for me to identify one song in particular that I like the most, because so many resonate with me. But if I had to pick one, and only one, I think I would have to go with Circle. The chorus goes like this.

All my life's a circle
Sunrise and sundown
The moon rolls thru the nighttime;
Till the daybreak comes around.

No straight lines make up my life;
And all my roads have bends;
There's no clear-cut beginnings;
And so far no dead-ends.

Typically, I don't think of a circle when I think of a metaphor for life. I think of a Sine curve. Sometimes you are up and sometimes you are down, and it is likely that, like the Sine curve, you will have regular ups and downs.

For those who have retained a bit of high school math, you know that the sine curve varies in terms of frequency--metaphorically how often we experience highs and lows, and the amplitude--metaphorically how high we get when we are happy and how low we get when we sink. I think it is inevitable that we will have highs and lows, the questions: Are we able to stick around long enough during the highs or are we always dipping down, seconds after we are aloft. And do we get too high or too low.

But whenever, I hear recordings of Circle, I wonder if the circle, not the Sine, is the right geometric figure as a life metaphor. A stanza in Circle goes like this.

I found you a thousand times;
I guess you've done the same;
But then we lose each other;
It's like a children's game;

As I find you here again;
A thought runs through my mind;
Our love is like a circle;
Let's go 'round one more time.

Maybe life is a sine curve, but the backbone of life--love--I think may be a circle. And if the backbone is a circle, perhaps the sense of the sine curve is just an illusion.

No comments:

Post a Comment