Having a breezy Sunday afternoon in the middle of a pandemic lockdown is not what I would have envisioned a year ago when we precipitously – and quite unwillingly I might add -reclaimed terra firma upon return from the shores of Longboat Key on the Gulf of Mexico. Indeed I wonder that I mightn’t have looked so far ahead for any purpose. The postulation is therefore moot. Yet it illustrates the circumference of the compass that is one’s fortune.
In geometry, the circumference (from Latin circumferens, meaning “carrying around”) is the perimeter of a circle or ellipse. That is, the circumference would be the arc length of the circle, as if it were opened up and straightened out to a line segment. More generally, the perimeter is the curve length around any closed figure. Circumference may also refer to the circle itself, that is, the locus corresponding to the edge of a disk.
The compass is a well-known literary and mystical symbol meant to capture one’s limitless variety within a limited orbit. It also echoes the mantra of self-discovery that requires you must first leave whence you came and then return in order fully to appreciate your beginning. Hopefully I have not yet exhausted that journey. Geometry was never much more than an amusement for me. The application of π to anything is vastly beyond my capacity. I do however esteem its clinical nature, the axiomatic appeal as it were. Reducing reality to numbers is a guaranteed impossibility but the division of life between the yin and the yang, the inner and the outer, the here and beyond, the finite and the infinite is nonetheless plausible and apodeictic.
In Ancient Chinese philosophy, yin and yang (/jɪn/ and /jɑːŋ, jæŋ/; Chinese: 陰陽 yīnyáng pronounced[ín jǎŋ], lit. “bright-black”, “positive-negative”) is a concept of dualism, describing how seemingly opposite or contrary forces may actually be complementary, interconnected, and interdependent in the natural world, and how they may give rise to each other as they interrelate to one another.
Encompassed within these images is the uncanny blend of events which form the narrative of our existence; and, more significantly, encapsulate the strange serendipity insinuating our lives. I quite demonstrably assert that there is nothing in life that happens other than for a purpose. It may be a self-fulfilling adage but for me it nonetheless strengthens the meaning of things. The word axiomatic by the way is not as dispassionate as you might think.
late 18th century: from Greek axiōmatikos, from axiōma ‘what is thought fitting’
Often I have betrayed my adoration of binary reflection for its simplicity and customary inherent logic – the moral equivalent of right or wrong. We do however all acknowledge that life is never quite so black or white, that discernment uncomfortably at times demands both innuendo and compromise.
It is thus that my irrepressible buoyancy today is like a feather upon the wafting zephyr. I am uplifted not by Voltaire’s “best of all possible worlds” but rather by the conviction that life is good. This opinion is not a mathematical deduction; it is empirical, “based on, concerned with, or verifiable by observation or experience rather than theory or pure logic“. If I were to draw you a circle it would contain the genesis of your imagination!