Earlier this year, we were in Glasgow, Scotland at the Kelvingrove Museum. In one of the upstairs rooms, I remember being captivated by an antique orrery, a mechanical model of the solar system. Built by a Scottish cobbler in 1833, the orrery has 200 moving parts and simulates the movement of the planets as they were known in the 19th century. I lingered near the exhibit for a long time, taking photos of it before moving on.
Now, seven months later, on the very last night of the year, I find myself thinking about the orrery again. Like the brass gears moving miniature planets in neat, circular orbits, the year 2017 has taken me full circle — both physically and mentally.
Some things haven’t changed. I’m still struggling to find the time and motivation to write. Blog topics come infrequently. The novel manuscript I planned to complete this year stalled out. My stage play was rejected from every festival I submitted to.
And yet, some things are radically different. I took a chance and applied for a new job where I work. I stood on the sacred Isle of Iona and sat among ruins a thousand years old. I watched the Moon nearly blot out the Sun. I rode a cable car in San Francisco and hiked to an emerald green pool in Zion Canyon. I finished a short story that’s plagued me for five years and got it published in Creative Colloquy Volume 4. I’ve spent lazy summer afternoons reading with my soulmate, baked a blackberry pie from scratch and seen many of my closest friends — even those living four states away.
Our lives are made up of these little cycles. Days. Weeks. Months. Seasons. Orbits around the Sun. Much of it is repetition. We wake, we eat, we go to work, we sleep and we repeat the process. It’s not all bad. Habits help ground us. And without the mundane, how could we recognize the extraordinary? If it wasn’t for all of the overcast days, I probably wouldn’t take so much pleasure in a beautiful, sunny day.
Here, on the cusp of the new year, I look forward to coming full circle in 2018 and seeing the brilliance among the ordinary. I hope you see it, too.
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Jonny Eberle is a writer and traveler based in Tacoma, WA. His latest short story, The Disappeared, appears in Creative Colloquy Vol. 4 and can be found at King’s Books in Tacoma. Follow him on Twitter and subscribe to his monthly newsletter for exclusive content and recommended reads.