Life doesn’t happen in straight lines, although we often expect it to. It’s the expectation that lands us in trouble. Life happens in wiggly, imperfect circles. If you want freedom from false expectations, learn to embrace the wiggles.
Pat Conroy, author of The Prince of Tides, wrote
No story is a straight line. The geometry of a human life is too imperfect and complex, too distorted by the laughter of time and the bewildering intricacies of fate to admit the straight line into its system of laws.
Bring the idea of wiggles back to Galileo, Galileo, Galileo as Freddie Mercury sang in the classic Queen song Bohemian Rhapsody. (Now see if you can read the rest of the article without Bohemian Rhapsody stuck in your head) The Queen song seems to be getting at the unfair treatment of Galileo. What was Galileo’s crime? Seeing wiggles rather than straight lines in the sky!
At the time of Galileo, they assumed that an imperfect earth, with its prime, central real estate, sits still while the perfect heavens revolve around it in perfect circles.
Galileo challenged all of this when he saw a spotty, cratered moon. The interface between the light and dark sides of the moon was rough and wiggly, and not a perfectly smooth sphere. He showed that not only is the moon imperfect, but it’s just like the surface of the earth. He paved the way for the idea of heaven on earth. As far as we can see out into space, earth is as good as it gets.
This was so threatening to the church of his day that many refused to even look through his telescope to see it. They censored him, put him under house arrest, forced him to recant at his inquisition and punished him by putting his tomb in an outer chapel of the Basilica in Florence. According to the church, “Beelzebub had a devil put aside for Galileo”. It wasn’t until 1992 that the Catholic Church finally apologized to Galileo who died over 300 years earlier.
They were fiercely protecting their ordered view of the universe, speaking of which I love this little version of the creation story,
And God promised men that good and obedient wives would be found in all corners of the earth.
Then God made the earth round…and God laughed and laughed and laughed!
Or as Voltaire said, “God is a circle, whose center is everywhere and circumference nowhere.”
Galileo explained it more technically,
The universe cannot be read until we have learnt the language and become familiar with the characters in which it is written. It is written in mathematical language, and the letters are triangles, circles and other geometrical figures, without which means it is humanly impossible to comprehend a single word.
Or as Freddie Mercury sang, “Anyway the wind blows!” Life is like the wind. It blows in wiggly motions. We aren’t the center of the universe. Bu the center of the universe is in us. Our relationship to the universe is like a circle and its circumference. You can’t have one without the other. Life evolves in circles, ever widening. Anais Nin said,
Life is a full circle, widening until it joins the circle motions of the infinite.
The way to approach a wiggly world full of light and dark shades is “easy come, easy go, little high, little low.”
My favorite story about Galileo was that after he recanted at his trial, he supposedly said under his breath, “And still it moves!” Another version of the story has Galileo walking out into freedom after he recanted, looking up into the sky and muttering, “And still it moves!”
It doesn’t matter who tries to suppress the truth, or how forcefully they try, it’s still the truth. The earth moves. And it moves in imperfect wiggles. Poets and philosophers, star gazers and children with their first telescopes, have all arrived at the same conclusion. Life keeps moving, and we need to move with it or get left behind. Robert Frost said it well,
I can summarize everything I have learned about life in three words; it goes on.
Life goes on. We’re wriggling and wiggling our way around this little imperfect ball called earth, and its what we make of our few decades wiggling around earth that counts. The more we live fully here and now, with integrity and generosity, without expectation and blinders on, through the light and dark sides of life, the more we create heaven on earth.
Freddie said it all, “Is this the real life? Is it just fantasy? Caught in a landslide, no escape from reality. Open your eyes, look up to the sky and see……………”