Falling Sideways

Have you ever played with a top? Most of us have. It’s a simple, common toy, yet brilliantly complex. How is it that a pointy-ended item which falls over at a standstill balances so gracefully in motion?

I wondered that this morning and a quick search led me to this fascinating description of the science behind Spinning Tops, Gyroscopes & Rattlebacks written by Rod Cross, a physicist with the University of Sydney, Australia. (Hint: it’s even better read with an Aussie accent.) The last physics class I took was more than 25 years ago, so I don’t understand all of it, but one thing caught my attention. As they are spinning, tops are, in fact, falling just as much as when you’ve set them on end at a standstill and they topple down. It’s just that the spin changes the direction of their fall from down to sideways, so instead of the top tipping over, it stays upright.

Once upon a time, I read a similar description of walking. I’ll leave it to you to Google that yourself, but from what I remember, walking is basically a series of falls forward. Each footfall causes you to catch yourself before you are laid out flat.

Since I’m not a physicist or an engineer, the mechanics of all this interests me not so much for its own sake as for the opportunity to make a clever analogy. Most frequently when I use the term “balance,” I’m not talking about staying physically upright, but emotionally even.

I haven’t shared it in this space before, but right now, in my own life journey, I’m traveling some rough terrain. Six months ago my husband, Adam, was diagnosed with an aggressive, malignant brain tumor. There is no class, no training program, no webinar to prepare yourself for a disease that’s trying to end the life of someone you love sooner rather than later. It feels like everything that is knowable and understandable begins to move, and continues moving until it’s become a constant, wobbly tornado.

A few days ago, I asked myself, “How can I continue to live in a constant state of crisis? How can I keep managing all this without losing my mind?” It’s really, really hard. Today, reading about the forces involved in motion, I see the glimmer of the beginning of an answer.

I need to learn to spin.

To spin, I must hold fast to that point of connection on which everything balances and simply give in to the momentum. I have to give in, to let myself fall, trusting that, even when it feels like I’m unable to stop, I will not fall over.

I’m sharing this post as part of Spiritual Journey First Thursday. Visit this month’s host Doraine Bennett at Yoga Inspired to find more thoughts on balance.

14 thoughts on “Falling Sideways

  1. Well said, Amy, as usual. I assume when you said “the point of connection on which everything balances” you were referring to the Lord, right? I can’t think of any other point of connection that would provide what you need. Hang in there. Learn to spin. Thought provoking. Thanks.

    Mi tasol (ask Adam)

  2. Amy: My heart goes out to you. Thank you for being brave enough to share your situation. You now offer me the opportunity to pray specific prayers for you and your husband.
    I like this reminder from Julian of Norwich:
    God is the still point, at the center, utterly at home, God lives in us forever.
    It works perfectly with your spinning top image.
    Blessings as you continue to find balance, Karen

  3. I am so sorry to hear of your husband’s illness. This is definitely something to spin you around and make you realize the fragility of life. Prayers for healing and peace.

  4. I love this analogy. It is so true. You need to trust that you will not fall, but keep spinning. Your thought – “How can I continue to live in a constant state of crisis? How can I keep managing all this without losing my mind?” is what I am asking lately, too. But I am learning to spin and trust. So helpful. And now, the other thing that is helpful – I can pray for you and your husband. There is nothing like a good prayer for someone else to keep on spinning!!

  5. Amy, I am lifting your family in prayer right now. Believing in the Lord in challenging times is a strength unto itself. May you land in the right spot. Peace!

  6. Amy, thank you for sharing about your husband. I love your spinning top metaphor, and I know what it’s like to live in that constantly spinning state and craving peace… hang in there. Be sure to take time to take care of yourself in the midst of it all. Chocolate always helps me. 🙂

  7. Amy, I’m so glad you joined the roundup today. Praying for you and Adam and your children as you spin. Ruth, thereisnosuchthingasagodforsakentown.blogspot.com

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