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spiral of life


He spun the hoop in his right hand, the knuckles on his left were taped. The hoop was a solid metal pipe; it clattered heavily the one time it fell to the tile. He stepped in and out of it with no more difficulty than stepping off the curb. Stepping in and beginning a spin with the same motion, he adjusted his footing and his grasp as he turned. Sometimes moving both feet together and shifting his weight to create momentum, then redistributing his limbs and rolling on. No matter if he fell out when his feet were above his head, he flowed back into the hoop and spun off again.

I took this photo years ago in Paris. I have always loved it though I cannot explain why. The beauty and skill of the young man drew me in at first. The point at which the hoop and the shadow meet has strength and the joining creates the symbol for infinity. The shadow seems to be floating above the plaza tiles, not on the same plane as the hoop nor the tiles. And the shadow is not exactly a mirror image but has its own dynamic. The background umbrellas and the vendor’s roof repeat the circular theme.

Somehow all of these pieces fit together for me. They create a past, a present, and a future all in the same circle, all in the stopped motion of the hoop and the man in it.

In many native traditions the circle, and especially the spiral, are sacred shapes. They represent birth and rebirth. They are an invitation to dance. Similarly, symmetry and asymmetry are opposite sides of the same coin – as joy and sorrow, life and death.

This seems a lot of weight for a Parisian man in a hoop to bear. Finally, I realize it is not a burden. There is no weight, there are no edges, no corners, no divisions. There is simply a man in a hoop. And he is limitless.

Tape up your knuckles, step into the hoop, and become one with the motion. We are all limitless and it is time to dance.