Soul Coughing – Cirlces

If you’ve read this blog at all, you probably stumbled across my fairly recent ode to “Super Bon Bon” and to the creative guru that is Mike Doughty. In a similar vein (the song is by the same group and Doughty again serves as the vessel that delivers the lyrics), I’ve deemed “Circles” worthy of an ode.

In the way “Super Bon Bon” is a gravelly mumbly walk-out song I like to listen to before I do shit I’d prefer not to (hey, Bartleby!), “Circles” fulfills the same role, but while “Super Bon Bon” feeds my inners and suppressed Mike Tyson–impetuous and enraged by every little thing–“Circles” feeds Mike’s antipode. It’s a little cheerier, the bass is less sinister–it wouldn’t feel out of place on the playlist at a summer barbecue.

But most salient is the difference in the lyrics. “Move aside…” vs. “I don’t need to walk around in circles, walk around in circles, walk around in circles, walk around in.” Okay, so the lyrics are cyclical. (top) Walk around (bottom) in circles (top) walk around (bottom) in circles, etc. We all recognize this. So it’s kind of like–if you don’t need to walk in circles, then why are the lyrics so orbicular? Whatever, I like them.

The lyrics, the idea of walking around in circles (and not needing to) are prevalent–to me–because I do walk around in literal circles and I also figuratively walk in circles. Literally, I’m a pacer. When I’m anxious, I pace. I walk around in circles. If I were in cartoon-form, and some cartoonist was drawing me as I pace around my kitchen table, racing elliptically from perihelion to aphelion, stressed about whatever the fuck happens to be stressing me out, said cartoonist would probably have my feet boring into the floor, creating an oblong crater of the orbital path, my preoccupied self sinking lower and lower into the ground.

Often, the impetus behind my orbit is negligible and entirely inconsequential–I usually know this as I career around the room (always ferociously caffeinated to a dangerous level) at a borderline running pace–yet I pace. I pace. I pace. I don’t need to do this! I don’t need to pace(/walk around in circles, walk around in circles, walk around in circles, walk around in). This song reminds me, when I’m on the verge of launching myself into high-speed orbit, drawn gravitationally to some minor stressor, that I don’t need to pace. That I’m probably just overthinking things.

But there’s a deeper significance as well. At 23, there are usually two places you stand in life. One of which is at the very beginning of your career. I was there for a bit, then after a very Shyamalan twist, I ended up off the career path and–well, sort of–back home, about to start a different career path (left a good job to go to grad school, had to find some way to fill the months of April-September). I took a job at a bookstore. I’d worked at a bookstore before I’d left to take that other job (which I’d just left). Do you see the cyclical nature here? I’d regressed to the original side. I’d been to one end of the orbit and then returned to the other. I, very much, felt as if I was walking around in circles, and not in a fucking good way.

I still feel like I’m walking around in circles. I wake up, go to the bookstore, I don’t mind it, and then I come home. When I’m home I read or write, usually thinking about how if I wasn’t “walking around in circles,” I could’ve been reading or writing all day. As a career. Which is the goal, ultimately.

Furthermore, to run a bit longer with the circle thing, I get very stressed over performing well at the bookstore. I don’t know why, but in whatever I do I need to be the, if not one of the, best employees or participants. This has led to a lot of proud moments in my life. It’s also led to a lot of pacing around my kitchen table. When Mike Doughty sings “Circles,” he reminds me that I don’t need to worry about these things. That if I make a mistake, it’s really not going to kill me, and it’ll rarely be something I’m incapable of rectifying. To go even further with the circle thing–I don’t even really need to be the best employee the bookstore has ever seen. Does that mean I won’t try? No. Such is my nature. But I don’t need to be. They know I’m there temporarily. I know I’m there temporarily. It’s not like I’m trying to work my way up to become the dude who runs the bookstore’s show.

Thus, I don’t need to worry.

I don’t need to walk around in circles.

 

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