Circles of Confusion

By Stephen Bray

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Some years ago I attended a 'complementary medicine' festival in Manchester. One of the exhibitors was doing something called 'sand reading'. Basically you etched a symbol with your finger in a tray of sand, and he told you what you must do as a result of his interpretation of it. Fortune telling really!


With a sense of complete abandonment I etched a circle, and then thinking that I needed to be more creative I added a couple of dots to the design:


The man looked at the design carefully and then with great compassion told me that the design was perfect, except for one thing. He then took a small ruler, and with it he raked the sand over one part of the design:

The dots were gone, and all that was left was a simple circle. He then went on to tell me many things, many of them true, some confusing, and others irrelevant. Sometimes I forget that simplicity and spontaneity are the easy way, and that those dots can produce remarkable troubles. But the circle always brings me back.