Recurrence: Seeing my (seemingly) infinite loops

IMG_6033You know the feeling, like you were in the movie Groundhog Day – you run into the same situation over and over and over . . . . so many times that you thought you were in an infinite loop?

I’ve felt like the Bill Murray character in many different areas of my life, ones in which I seemed to be repeating the same day over and over, stuck in an infinite loop.  Some loops were ones that I knew were very significant.  Others were ones that seemed meaningless at the time.

But since my mind naturally looks for patterns, now when I run into one of these recurrences, I’ve learned to ask myself what is going on.  What is the pattern?

And more importantly why, and why now?

I mean, why would I encounter situations over and over?  Surely there is something significant beyond what I’m seeing?

My thought now, after many patterns of recurrence during my life, is that these recurrences are opportunities.

Opportunities for me.  Opportunities for me to change.

I seem to draw to myself the situations (and people) that are trying to lead me into my next area of growth – and the seemingly infinite loops occur when I refuse the invitation of that new path.

What happens when I turn down that opportunity?

Well, then I get opportunity followed by opportunity followed by opportunity.

Spring & summer 2007 107Sometimes that old path, the one I’ve worn so well, the one that feels so very comfortable with its wide expanse and mostly flat terrain, the one with solid footing and only a few rocks, ones that I can easily step over or around, the path with very gradual incline – it’s the one I need to leave . . . . so that I can take another trail.  I need to leave that familiar path to take the one that’s perhaps a little grown up, where maybe there might be a snake or two hiding in the weeds or perhaps some big spiderwebs I’ll have to walk through.  Or maybe it’s that trail that is really rocky, the one that is steep with slippery footing, the one that disappears around a bend that seems to be a narrow ledge, the one with huge boulders I’ll have to climb over.

I’m not naturally going to choose those trails when my nice, safe, comfortable trail is right here.

I mean, really, why make it hard on myself, right?

So I have a recurrence to help nudge me into an area of growth, onto that new trail.

And when I ignore that recurrence, that nudge, then I have another.  And another.  And another.  Then the nudge becomes a push.  And when the push doesn’t get me onto the new path, I get a shove.  Sometimes a big one (like cancer).

And so finally I leave the well-worn, safe, easier path.

I’m learning to identify the nudges toward an unexplored path when I encounter a new situation – or person – that feels very familiar.  Like I’ve been here in this very new place before – even though I know I haven’t been.  Or like I already know this person – even though I’m sure we’ve never met.  In the past my rational mind would tell me that this feeling of familiarity isn’t significant, that it’s not meaningful, that it’s totally a coincidence.

That I don’t need to pay any special attention to it.

But now I know better.

I’ve had enough of these nudges happen to realize I’m running into a pattern, a recurrence.

And I know now that recurrences are meaningful.  That they are significant.  That they are opportunities.

Not that I always know what the opportunity is.  At least not yet.

Sometimes it takes a while for me to figure out the message, to discover just what it is that I need to change about myself.

I can see the patterns much more clearly in others – see the recurrences in their lives and the opportunities for growth.

But the recurrences in my life?  I see them a lot less clearly.

That’s one reason I keep a journal that includes a record of my dreams.  There I can see the patterns more easily.  I can see the recurrences.  They might be in situations I encounter or in people I meet.  Or they might show up in a series of dreams.

Usually they show up in all three – situations, people, and dreams.

Once I realize the recurrence and the opportunity, that doesn’t mean I’ll have an easy new path.  I still have to negotiate the snakes and weeds or the rocks and the ledge.  But at least I’m on the new path, the one with the opportunity for growth.

And I’ll have gotten out of that seemingly infinite loop of recurrences.



At least until the next one . . . .


“Atmosanctum” by Evan Lewis in Chattanooga’s Bluff View district



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