The inner ring

A friend told me recently that there is an interview with the Beatles where each member was asked separately about the closeness of the group, relationally (P.S. there is a red squiggly line under "relationally." Apparently, that's not an actual word. Who knew? I'm leaving it).

In this alleged interview which I have not been able to find on the interwebs, each member said that the other three were close to each other and that they were the outsider.

Each one of them said that about the other three. John felt that Ringo, George and Paul were super close and he was left out. Paul felt John, Ringo and George were the close ones... and you get my point.

Each member of the Beatles felt like the proverbial "outsider" of the group... and isolated.

Image result for public domain ring people

In a lecture at King's College, C.S. Lewis aptly titled this phenomena of being the forever outsider, "the inner ring." The ring that is always out of reach. The circle we all so desperately clamor to join but, alas, are never quite "whatever" enough to get in. 

" I believe that in all men’s lives at certain periods, and in many men’s lives at all periods between infancy and extreme old age, one of the most dominant elements is the desire to be inside the local Ring and the terror of being left outside. This desire, in one of its forms, has indeed had ample justice done to it in literature. I mean, in the form of snobbery. Victorian fiction is full of characters who are hag-ridden by the desire to get inside that particular Ring which is, or was, called Society. But it must be clearly understood that “Society,” in that sense of the word, is merely one of a hundred Rings, and snobbery therefore only one form of the longing to be inside."

So, the actual goal is never fully actualized. If you just want to get inside that other ring. The innermost, the one always out of our reach. This has played out in a myriad of ways throughout my (almost) thirty-one years. In elementary school it was trying to get in with the groups who were all on the same softball team together. Fail. I didn't play softball. I can't see out of my left eye so the hand-eye coordination and depth perception make me a terrible candidate for softball. Middle school? The inner ring involved a squeaky-clean group of girls with straight highlighted hair, Abercrombie shirts, Doc Martens boots and Gap backpacks. Seeing as how my mom might have actually laughed in my face when I asked for her to spend $35 on ONE shirt, I likely wasn't going to have much of a shot at that ring, either.

High school was a wide variety of inner rings: the super-religious kids wearing WWJD bracelets, Falls Creek church camp t-shirts, and cross necklaces; the girls who somehow always knew where the parties were and also, somehow, managed to go through an entire day without spilling food on themselves while resisting the strong pull of Oklahoma humidity on a single strand of hair; and the list goes on and on.

I thought, naively, that once I left the world of education when I graduated from college, the inner ring complex would dissipate. Silly me. It lives on and is thriving. Each social group we have been a part of, be it a Moms' group or church, the inner ring appears yet again. And, if C.S. Lewis is right (and I'm inclined to think he is), our minds will always conjure up an inner ring to try and get into... whether it actually exists or not.

But, there's hope! Lewis says...

"And if in your spare time you consort simply with the people you like, you will again find that you have come unawares to a real inside: that you are indeed snug and safe at the centre of something which, seen from without, would look exactly like an Inner Ring. But the difference is that the secrecy is accidental, and its exclusiveness a by-product, and no one was led thither by the lure of the esoteric: for it is only four or five people who like one another meeting to do things that they like. This is friendship. Aristotle placed it among the virtues. It causes perhaps half of all the happiness in the world, and no Inner Ring can ever have it."

So, in short... if we just hang with people we like, develop deep friendships, and stop stressing out about who we AREN'T consorting with... we will create our own sort of inner ring. Only it will be minus the stress of keeping our spot. 


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