Rust Cohle from "Time is a flat circle" scene

Time is a flat circle?

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In the first season of True Detective, Matthew McConnaughey’s character famously pronounces “Time is a flat circle.” Humanity constantly replays the same basic struggles and dramas. We never really learn our lesson. We are condemned to the same cycle of life for eternity.

I see why it might like look this way. From ancient myths to Greek tragedies to our current political climate, we have always struggled with the same basic downfalls – pride, greed, laziness, arrogance. These don’t seem to be going away.

But I prefer to think of our trajectory instead as an upward spiral. We are constantly developing new capacities, values, and ideas. Yet we also circle around through the same themes and challenges again and again. 

From this perspective, we humble ourselves by acknowledging our weaknesses, yet open the door to possibility by acknowledging our capacity to grow.

Peter Schulte

Peter Schulte is the founder and editor of Kindling. Peter is also Senior Digital Engagement Associate for the Pacific Institute and the UN Global Compact's CEO Water Mandate, connecting businesses to sustainable water practices. Peter holds a B.S. in Conservation and Resource Studies and a B.A. in Comparative Literature from University of California, Berkeley, and an M.B.A. in Sustainable Systems from Pinchot University. He lives in Bellingham, WA, USA with his wife, son, and cat.

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