Life is a Roundabout

To me, life isn’t like a box of chocolates. Life is like a playground roundabout. You know that platform that spins round and round? I think it’s also called a merry-go-round, but without the horses. Or the fanciness.

Photo by Michael Rivera - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,

If you sit idly on a playground roundabout, maybe watching squirrels play or clouds pass overhead, you can feel the tremble of the world around you. From a distance. You can reach out a foot and set yourself in gentle motion.

It takes an effort to actually get yourself spinning. You have to stand up, run with it, and jump back on. You need a bit of timing. And coordination. But once it’s moving, you can enjoy the ride.

With a friend or two, you share the effort to overcome inertia. You take turns pushing. Or you time it together. You laugh more. You stumble over each other. You figure it out. You move faster.

Sometimes, a whole crowd of kids shows up to play. Some you invited. Some who showed up without warning. That happens. You don’t own the playground.

The more kids on a roundabout, all pushing and jumping, and edging for space, the more chaotic it becomes. It spins faster. Adrenaline rises. It’s all fun and games. Until someone gets hurt.

With too many kids, you can feel out of control. Overwhelmed. Maybe you’re shoved, or stepped on, or bumped into a handrail. Maybe you feel dizzy or are overcome with nausea.

Maybe you fall off.

This morning, I spilled my oatmeal and over-poured my pour-over coffee. My kitchen counter was one mess after another. I’m off my game. I’m off my roundabout.

It’s been a week like that. (A month like that?) More happening than I planned. Some good. Some bad. Just a lot overall. Sometimes that’s a rush. Sometimes it’s a challenge to hold on.

Sometimes I fall off.

And the world keeps spinning.

When I’m standing on the sidelines, I’m dusting myself off and watching the action. I’m timing when I can jump back on.

I’m waiting for the dizziness to settle and longing for some quieter playground days. Days when I can set the pace of the roundabout or even let it idle as long as I’d like.

I’m checking my bruises and maybe even wishing I could just go home and be done with the whole thing.

But I don’t go home. Because life is a playground roundabout.

When I fall off, I can still give myself time to catch my breath and dust myself off. I can remind myself that there are quiet days and busy days at the playground.

It’s easier to jump back on when the roundabout is still, but sometimes I have to jump while it’s still moving. Because it may be a while before the playground quiets down. And there’s only so long you can stand on the sidelines without the world passing you by.

When it’s hard to jump back on, my friends can catch my hands. They can hold on to me until my grip on the handrail is firmer. If I let them. If I tell them I’m slipping.

I can move to the center, finding a more secure—less dizzy—place and remind myself that there will be quieter days when I can watch the squirrels play and the clouds pass overhead.

In the meantime, I can hold on, laugh at the antics around me, and find something to enjoy in the ride. Appreciating life for the roundabout it is.

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