Life on the Möbius Strip

Wednesday, February 17, 2016 - 10:45 am

Life on the Möbius Strip

Here’s a brief meditation on life on the Mobius strip, a curious concept to be sure, but no more curious than life itself!

The curious object pictured is a Möbius strip.

(PBS Nova.)

If you take your index finger and trace what seems to be the outside surface, you suddenly find yourself on what seems to be the inside surface. Continue along what seems to be the inside surface, and you suddenly find yourself on what seems to be the outside surface.

I need to keep saying “what seems to be” because the Möbius strip has only one side! What look like its inner and outer surfaces flow into each other seamlessly, co-creating the whole. The first time I saw a Möbius strip, I thought, “Amazing! That’s exactly how life works!”

Whatever is inside of us continually flows outward, helping to form or deform the world — depending on what we send out. Whatever is outside us continually flows inward, helping to form or deform us — depending on how we take it in. Bit by bit, we and our world are endlessly re-made in this eternal inner-outer exchange.

Much depends on what we choose to put into the world from within ourselves — and much depends on how we handle what the world sends back to us. As Thomas Merton said:

“We don’t have to adjust to the world. We can adjust the world.”

Here’s the question I’ve been asking myself ever since I understood that we live our lives on the Möbius strip:

“How can I make more life-giving choices about what to put into the world and how to deal with what the world sends back — choices that might bring new life to me, to others, and to the world we share?”

 

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is a columnist for On Being. His column appears every Wednesday.

He is a Quaker elder, educator, activist, and founder of the Center for Courage & Renewal. His books include Healing the Heart of Democracy, A Hidden Wholeness: The Journey Toward an Undivided Life, and Let Your Life Speak: Listening for the Voice of Vocation.

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