So here we are. Another summer ending. Another rotation of the globe, another turn around the “merry-go-round of time,” as Joni Mitchell puts it in her classic, “The Circle Game.”
This lyric has always struck me in its suggested limitation, in its apparent indication of a lack of progress; suggesting that we’re following the same path over and over again. Perhaps we gain new perspective in “looking behind from where we came,” and have age-appropriately different experiences, but fundamentally we’re always making the same trip.
In some ways this is effectively true. No matter how much we change, how much times change, how much “progress” we make, we are still just individual humans moving through the world and nature and time, which marches on.
But how do we square this version of the progression of time with the essential need for personal growth and progress that we necessarily must embody in order to be Self Led, to internalize the growth mindset, lifelong learning, the desire for growth and advancement inherently necessary in a current and future world of work with fewer jobs and more personal investment?
In David Yaffe’s biography of Joni Mitchell, he quotes that Joni as saying that she wrote “The Circle Game” for her friend Neil Young, who was depressed about the things he had left behind in youth and feeling bleak about the future, to offer some positive vision toward which to look forward.
Maybe we don’t leave the circle and forge a new path, but rather, our circle gets bigger, wider, deeper with perspective, more colorful with experience, more dug in with time. And maybe, as the new movement toward regenerative culture sets forth, the goal is not simply to create something new or to simply sustain but to enhance, improve, strive for better and more positive with time.
What can you do to make year’s trip around the seasons more substantial, more meaningful, more satisfying and generative—whether for yourself, your family, your company, your community—than the one before?