The Way of the Spiral: An Introduction

spiral galaxy

In the journey of life, one needs a code, a credo, a compass to guide them along, so they do not find themselves lost or stranded along the way. Some find that in religion, some find it with a role model, some find it within a personal philosophy. Having a direction in life does not imply rigidity. There is still room to explore and find new paths. It is all too easy to find one’s self stuck when they lack a greater goal or some thought or idea challenging them to move forward. A direction in life keeps one’s feet firmly on the ground when winds of life’s chaos sweep others off of their feet. A direction in life ensures we become the best people we can be.

The purpose of this blog has been to promote motivation and self improvement, with snark and humor peppered in for extra entertainment along the way. The Gurren Lagann blog post hinted at a more concrete set of guiding principles, but, I decided it was time to lay them out to clarify my own credo moving forward and offer them for use by others as well. These six rules together will guide you in becoming a better person, the best person you can be.  These principles will lift up not only your own self, but those around you. The journey is one for all to take.

Of course, these six platitudes won’t hold the answer for every situation in life, and they shouldn’t be viewed as rigid ‘laws’ or ‘rules’ either. These principles are designed to help advance, not restrict.

spiral pirates of the carribean
Had to.

Just a quick disclaimer: This set of six principles are heavily inspired by Gurren Lagann. I freely and proudly admit the influence. I mean, come on, the name of this blog is a reference to the anime. So without further ado…

The Way of the Spiral

First, let’s define exactly what we’re talking about when I say the word ‘spiral,’ because I’m going to be saying it a lot. The American Heritage Dictionary defines the word as:

A curve on a plane that winds around a fixed center point at a continuously increasing or decreasing distance from the point.

In our case, the spiral twists away from the starting point, twirling out to farther realms and places with each turn. But, why the fixation on spirals? Why is this shape so special? Why didn’t Hiroyuki Imaishi base his mecha masterpiece on a Sierpinski tetrahedron instead? On a purely physical level, the spiral reoccurs constantly throughout life and the universe itself. You can find them in places as mundane as a snail’s shell, a sunflower, or water draining from a sink.

pokemon spiral
And weird not-quite-a-frog Pokémon

Then we see larger incarnations. Tornadoes and hurricanes roar across the landscape in the twirling shape. The galaxy we live in and thousands of galaxies like it are, you guessed it, in the shape of a spiral. The very building blocks of life, DNA, composed of a double helix, the three dimensional manifestation of…the spiral.

Gurren Lagann took the spiral and built a mythology around it. Not only was it a reoccurring shape throughout life and the universe, it was a manifestation of the energy of life and evolution. The mutation of species from one form to another was defined as seeking superior forms to accumulate and wield more spiral energy. While our current understanding of science shows that seeking some kind of helix life force is most certainly not the process or goal of evolution in the real world, the philosophy behind the show can be applied in our day to day lives, and produce evolution of a different kind.

These principles are designed to take the concepts of the expanding spiral and advancement of evolution into daily life. They will not transform you into some kind of hyper-muscled, nine-foot-tall person that has developed ESP, but they can most certainly help transform you into a superior human being. Read on to find out how you can expand into new places and experiences, just like the ever-expanding edges of a spiral.

1. Go Beyond the Impossible

The words “cannot” and “impossible” (and all synonymous derivatives thereof) are extremely poisonous to one’s journey of advancement and evolution. When we say we can’t do something or that it is impossible, we place a barrier in front of ourselves before the difficulties and challenges of life even have a chance to throw one at us. We stay in our little bubbles of safety, even if those bubbles are dull and miserable, because making a change to something better is ‘impossible.’

Instead, one must look to constantly challenge the ‘impossible.’ New horizons never imagined can be discovered just beyond the edges of a comfort zone or imagined limits. To look beyond and challenge the impossible keeps one moving forward, rather than staying still or even worse moving backwards. Do not look for reasons why something cannot be accomplished, look for ways the challenges can be surpassed.

2. Give All Things Full Effort

Just the same, challenging the impossible requires full effort and dedication. Halfhearted attempts do not clear the hurdles. Without sufficient effort, the walls of difficulty life places will knock you back again and again. For the things one truly desires, all of the stops must be pulled out and maximum willpower must be summoned.

Just the same, thorough effort should be given in most, if not all of life’s pursuits. This builds a habit of effort, and in turn, a habit of excellence. A habit of effort pushes boundaries and promotes improvements in all aspects of life, rather than just a singular goal or skill chosen to perfect.

spiral green lantern
Besides, willpower is what you need to power a Green Lantern ring.

3. Do Not Rely on Others, Only Yourself

A trap many people fall into, particularly those that suffer from low self esteem, is latching onto others for validation and their happiness. This could be through romantic relationships, friendships, family, or whomever else. We usually don’t intend to rely on others to build our self worth, especially if high esteem doesn’t come naturally. Even worse, validation from others can feel like a drug. Things are all well and good receiving it, but then one feels empty and terrified when that attention is gone.

Relying on other people for self validation is unfair not only to the people relied upon, it is also a disservice to the person themselves. Expecting, say, a boyfriend or girlfriend to bring you happiness and social standing denies you of your own agency, your own capability to lead a rewarding and satisfying life. Other people will come and go from your life, that is an inevitability, but there is one person you will always be able to control, and that is yourself.

4. Focus on the Reality of Your Situation

This rule may sound like a contradiction to #1. After all, how can you dream of achieving bigger and better things but also stay grounded in reality? The answer is simple: To make a map to success, one must know where they actually stand. This is actually a tenet of Zen Buddhism, as Brad Warner presents it in Hardcore Zen: “Suffering occurs when your ideas about how things ought to be don’t match how they really are.”

Simply put, yearning for things to be different or keeping one’s self bogged down in regret fogs one’s vision and burdens them on their journey in life, or as Kamina refers to it in Gurren Lagann, the “what-ifs, should-haves, and if-onlys.” One cannot move forward when their eyes are either looking back or looking so far in the distance they don’t bother to navigate what’s in front of them. By all means look forward, but don’t blur your vision with clouds while you do.

5. Encourage and Empower Those Around You

When Charles Darwin defined the Theory of Evolution, he did not base the idea of singular individual organisms reaching greater forms, but the entire species. One of the great advantages and defenses that mammals developed was living and feeding/hunting in groups, though dinosaurs had that nailed down pretty well too. Humans perfected this cooperative model with the development of organized society from bands of hunter-gatherers. Our greatest heights as a species (figuratively and literally) came as a result of cooperation, not roughneck, lone wolves going it alone.

spiral wolf
Why is the ‘lone wolf’ such a popular trope anyway? In the wild, lone wolves tend to die sooner than the pack wolves.

For the Way of the Spiral, this means not only advancing forward in one’s own life, but assisting others in doing the same. This can mean assisting when they ask for help, or offering encouragement when they take on their own challenges. And yes, some people are averse or even hostile towards change in their lives, and attempting to force it would only make things worse. In cases like that, one can only set an example that may inspire them to follow, and when they rise, welcome them to path of improvement. After all, the journey forward is no fun when it’s a journey alone.

6. Never Stop Advancing and Evolving

A geometric spiral twirls outward infinitely, a drill spins forward and pierces through the earth ahead. Progress inherently involves movement of some kind. Positive evolution (ie: not becoming a useless panda) requires advancement of a species. Above all things, the Way of the Spiral demands that those who follow it always seek ways to move forward and seek improvement in their lives, to maximize effort and inertia. Stopping and stalling are the enemy. To stop advancing is to lose momentum, get stuck, and worst of all, gather dust. One’s greatest potential can never be reached without pushing the boundaries of what they can be and what they think is possible. And that, dear readers, is the greatest disservice one can do to themselves.

These six principles have already been woven into previous posts on this blog and will form the basis and purpose for future entries from here. If you take nothing more from this website, take a look at these six principles and decide how they can be integrated into your life and used to push yourself to new heights. Try them, see if they can make a change in your life like they have for mine as I defined and developed them. Take them, and become the superior person you were always meant to be.

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