Treading lightly the path to enlightenment.

Ring Theory

People speak of growing and maturing. People speak of childhood, their “inner child”, and childish behavior.

We grow as a tree grows, each year adding atop all of the previous years. Just as a tree, even a hundred or more years old, bears all of its life and history in its rings, so too, do people. A tree doesn’t outgrow its rings, nor does it seek to forget them, if a tree could do such things. (And how do we know it cannot?)

Those innermost rings, year one, year two, that great year and that bad one, they remain intact for the life of the tree. In fact, even after life has left the tree.

People are similar. You don’t need to work at “getting in touch with your inner child” any more than a tree has to work at keeping its rings in order. Those rings are there, they have grown, and will always be a part of you. When you see something you loved as a child, isn’t that love still real, isn’t it rekindled in the moment? It’s a feeling inside you, not a conscious effort.

Can’t we still like the taste of creamsicles and be afraid of loud noises? Can we really “outgrow” these things?

Spend time with children, and you will see that “everything old is new again” for you. Why is the sky blue? How many stars are there? Can I really dig a hole through the earth and come out in China? Do aliens have pets?

The greatest beauty of childhood is the sense that all the world is NOW.

Seek to realize that those rings are still there. They’re safely protected and as green and vibrant as when they were new.

Just as they do for a tree, those inner rings shape the person we are now, and provide a core. We can not escape that core any more than a tree can disavow its inner rings.

What rings do you live in? Which have you carried forward to this day? Your love of cats? Or Rollercoasters? Hot dogs? The Andy Griffith Show? Your fear of trains or falling trees or mean dogs?

Look for the rings you have left behind unwillingly. Those things that someone told you- or you told yourself- you had to outgrow.

Sometimes when something seems to pull at your heartstrings, it is pulling on your inner rings.

Just as a tree, we can’t always wantonly expose our inner rings, or they could be damaged. Some of them may be much too tender to expose to the harsh world.

Seek to see them, though, and to see how they affect the way we think and feel and act in our present day.

Let this help you to understand and be comfortable with the person you have become, or to change that person to be more like the one you’d imagined for yourself.

Deep in the recesses of your heart and mind, these rings are stored, good and bad. But the now of this world is your outer bark. Your rings are inescapable, but they are entirely within your control to reveal, to conceal, to befriend or to shun. 

Remember too, as you meet others, that we are each bolstered and burdened by the inner rings of our lives.

Beneath the bark, we are all the same.


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