Re-Cyling: Why Things In Your Life Seem To Repeat Themselves

You ever notice how sometimes certain things in your life seem to repeat themselves? As if you have seen them before? It could be a new relationship that has uncanny similarities with a former one. It could be a particular person you ran into who seems almost like a doppelgänger of somebody else. It could be an illness, an accident, an incident, a coincidence.

Whatever it is, it may prompt the following observation/question within you: “Well, that’s odd. Why is this happening again?”

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I have a theory on that. It’s not new. But I gave it a name anyway, just for shits and giggles: re-cycling.

We normally think of our Life Path as going in straight line, from point A to point B:

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We’ve been taught that there’s this linear path that starts at birth and hits all the landmarks…school…first kiss…college…first “real” job…new car…and so on. It’s a “straight shot” from your first breaths to life-support at 85.

But there is a second, more ancient theory of Time. What if, instead of being a straight line, your Life Path is more curved—even circular? Time as an “eternal wheel” that keeps going ’round and ’round. Which is to say:

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On the surface, this would seem to explain why things seem to repeat itself—the explanation for déjà vu. But if time was really moving in such a pattern…it would be going over the exact same ground. There would be no progress. It would feel as if life was devoid of free will. It would be like watching the same TV episode over and over again (and what if it’s a shitty episode?).

But there is a third theory. And that is, that life is indeed moving forward, not in a perpetual circle…but it is also “curved.”

In this theory, time is moving in a spiral.

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And with each “turn” of the spiral, we notice certain similarities to previous experiences, because the Path sort of “folds up” on itself as it turns, with “pieces touching.” For example you’ve lived through 1996 already, but as you move along on the spiral and reach a “turn” at 2006, you get 1996’s influences, because their circular paths are close to each other at this point in the journey.

These turns on the spiral, bringing the influence of one earlier spot to another, are cycles. When you feel you are doing the same thing over again—living  an earlier part of your life—you are re-cycling. It’s Groundhog’s Day.

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what doing the same thing over and over might look like

And you are, in a sense, going over the same thing: because time is doubling up on itself. Folding, returning. And so something you experienced six years ago may be echoed in something you are experiencing now.

But you also are not going over the same thing—because you are still moving forward in your Life Path. This isn’t time as a closed circle, repeating literally the same thing. As you move along the spiral to its center, you are evolving (or devolving, depends on your point of view).

What is the purpose of these repeats, these re-cycles? The purpose of them is to learn and relearn life-lessons; experience and reexperience things until you understand. Like refresher courses. Reruns, in a sense. Reboots, like a film based on an earlier film. The same basic premise, and even characters, might be there—but the story’s kind of different and the actors are different. It seems the same, but also, it’s very much different. That’s what it’s like.

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you all seem similar…but also different

Basically, we are going to do it and do it and do it until we get it right. And the idea of “right” is subjective; saying “we’re going to get it right” sounds like “we’re going to win.” But “winning” is not a helpful term or goal. When we get it “right,” we’ll know.

We’ll know because the intensity and duration of the repeating event will not be as much. There still might be echoes, and gentle “replays.” But it won’t be the same amount of angst and immediacy. Not if we process it. Once we process it—and even if the event or person “returns,” in a sense, or we experience that resonance—it won’t bother us. You’ll be cool; you’ll say “ah yes, I knew a person like you, back when. It’s OK.”

And a large part of it is being at peace with it. Rather than saying something is good, and something is bad; this is different, it’s about being at peace.

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When you find that deep peace, you know you have found your truth. And I think that the goal of all this re-cycling is to uncover and embrace the truth—to get to a point where you’re at peace with it. When you’ve re-experienced a certain part of your life in a re-cycle, but you’ve still attached so many strong (often negative) emotions to it…you really haven’t learned the entire thing yet. Because if you did, you wouldn’t be holding on to those emotions. You’d have processed it and been at peace.

But instead, it re-cycles. Instead, it goes down one more circle in the spiral.

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And so your work continues, until you reach that center.