Coming full circle seems to be a function embedded in life as we know it. Take us, for example. Men and women are born helpless, and often die the same way. Delicate and needy when young, we grow up and become adults, logical and independent, only to grow old, delicate and needy again…
Coming full circle seems to be a function embedded in life as we know it. Things tend to arrive back where they started more often than one would expect, as if following an arcane (and poetic?) universal law.
Take us, for example. Men and women are born helpless and often die the same way. Delicate and needy when young, we grow up and become adults, logical and independent, only to grow old, delicate and needy again. Turning senile is like a genial joke, nature’s way of having the last laugh, turning adults back into babies to remind us that our time to shine is limited, and not to be wasted.
The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button
Perhaps no other film explores the formula of life better than David Fincher’s The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. Based on a short story by F. Scott Fitzgerald, the film is a long and glorious biopic of a baby born old, wrinkly and dying. Left at a nursing home for the elderly by his horrified father, the infant is adopted by Queenie, the home’s young housemistress.
There, in the midst of senior citizens, the precocious but senile-looking Benjamin slowly grows up, learning how life is all about taking an extra step or two, even when he’s not supposed to.
As Benjamin grows up he grows younger, stronger and healthier. He leaves home and begins a life of adventure. He travels to foreign lands and meets people and fights in a war and falls in love. All the while beginning to understand that he’s destined to watch his loves ones die, while he grows younger and younger.
But there’s much to be joyous about. He finds love and gets to spend a few wonderful years with Daisy, a woman who loves him.
They’re the best years of his life. True, they’re headed toward a gut-wrenching conclusion, but an expected conclusion it is, and even though it comes on slow and grueling, like life does, it’s a fitting epilogue to an otherwise rich life. As Benjamin once realized, “You can be as mad as a mad dog at the way things went. You could swear, curse the fates, but when it comes to the end, you have to let go.”
Aside from human development, circularity is part of everyday life, underscoring every individual’s dreams, goals, efforts and aspirations. Events repeat themselves at will, sometimes for the better, other times in painful and tragic ways, casting people back in circumstances they’d been striving to escape all along.
Operation: Mindcrime by Queensrÿche (1988), one of the greatest rock albums of all time, tells a harrowing tale of things coming back where they started, with a twist.
The story begins with Nikki, heroin addict and frustrated individual, lost soul in a mad world, desperate and looking for answers in a place where “the holy dollar rules everybody’s lives”. Sensing revolution, Nikki joins the organization of the mysterious Dr. X and becomes a hitman, taking out people deemed dangerous to the cause.
In the process he meets Mary, a prostitute-turned-nun, with whom he falls in love.
But love is a fleeting condition in the world of Mindcrime. “Kill her… she’s a risk,” comes the instruction from above.
Nikki is outraged. He refuses to do it. Or maybe he does, he can’t remember. All he knows is that he’s suddenly fleeing from the law, accused of a heinous crime he may or may not have committed.
Nikki is eventually arrested and taken to a mental hospital, where, delirious and brokenhearted, he spends his days dreaming of Mary, trying to figure out what happened – a lost soul in a mad world once again, looking for answers and finding none, his only solace the medication he’s hooked on.
4000 Years of Medicine
All in all, life is a strange and mysterious process. Sometimes it’s tragic and painful, other times ironic and humorous. The joke may be on us, but often enough it’s clever, entertaining and informative enough to teach us something, if only we pay attention and take a hint or two.
Take medicine, for example. After 4000 years and many transformations and evolutions, ranging from countless remedies and treatments to a host of approaches and methodologies, things haven’t changed much. We’ve simply taken the long way round to good old basics, with a twist.
So back to our roots we go, more often than not, in many areas and fields. Hopefully we gain something in the process, using each cycle and spin to learn something new, adding fresh angles and precious experience to our increasingly multiversed perspective.
Sometimes this involves complex operations that take centuries to play out, like politics or medicine. Other times it involves something as simple as acknowledging a parent, telling him/her,
‘I love you.’