Blame it on Circles

My college art class professor loved circles. He gave us instruction in our class on Monday, then set an art project to be completed by Friday—and he always wanted us to include circles or curves—except for William, of course. William disappeared after Monday’s class, but he unfailingly showed up on Thursday night with a large canvas he had stretched. He applied masking tape to the blank canvas in geometrical shapes, spray painted different areas different colors, and removed the tape. Art project finished in thirty minutes. Result—straight ‘A’s.

It seemed unfair at the time that the 30-minute student in our class always rated an ‘A’ when the rest of us who showed up and worked on our projects all week, diligently including the required circles and curves, did not hit the ‘A’ mark. But I have since learned that life is not fair and I am not an artist. William was.

The country song, “Will the Circle be Unbroken,” recorded in 1935, by the Carter Family has a catchy tune and words: Will the circle be unbroken; By and by, Lord, by and by; There’s a better home a-waiting; In the sky, Lord in the sky. I love that song.

Circles are good in songs. “The Circle of Life” in “Lion King” being a prime example. But I’m beginning to distrust circles. Take the seasons. They curve and circle around enough to please even my art professor. But the circle includes winter (she says wearing three layers of clothes at the computer and shivering). Winter is simply not good for me no matter how many circles—or songs—it creeps into.

However, my main grumble about circles is that they are round. As I go back and forth across the water every day to visit my husband in the hospital, I watch the windows on buildings as the ferry approaches the terminals at each end of the trip. The windows are tall and trim and inflexible. I can’t help thinking that if I maintained the same shape as the windows—my weight would not creep up on me and become a problem. See—I’m not window-shaped. I’m round. And that’s the problem with circles. There is always room in the middle to add something. Stephanie Parker McKean: books, biography, latest update