December 17, 2018

I want to talk to you for a few minutes about brass rings.

Most people are familiar with the phrase “Grabbing the brass ring” as a metaphor (or simile, or whatever) for striving for something out of reach, trying to accomplish something challenging, taking a risk, etc. What most people don’t know is where that metaphor (or simile, or whatever) came from. Decades and decades ago, carousel operators installed a little contraption on their rides that would place a little brass ring just a bit outside from the path of the ride. People could reach out, and if their arms were long enough, their timing was right (what with the horse going up and down,) and they were lucky, they would be able to grab one. The machine was set up so that another one would fall into place for the next rider, and it was a cheap way to entice people to spend money riding again and again, just to have the chance of grabbing a brass ring. Those who got one would naturally brag about it to their friends, who would be encouraged to try and grab a ring of their own.

Today, I picked up a brass ring of my own, sort of. It’s more like a bronze medallion, and when I say “more like”, it’s actually a metaphor (or simile, or whatever) for “exactly”, as in it’s exactly a bronze medallion. It’s got a triangle on the front and a 25 word prayer on the back. Oh, and on the front, there’s a number 1 in the middle of the triangle. There were times I didn’t think I would earn it, times I thought I didn’t need to earn it, and times when I thought I didn’t deserve to earn it. The most recent time I didn’t think I deserved it was about two minutes before I actually got it. Seriously, I had an urge to stand up and leave the meeting when it was getting to be that time, but I stayed, and when they said, “Does anybody have a year today?” I stood up.

Honestly, I thought I’d feel a bit differently right now. There’s an odd sense of emptiness, a sort of anticlimactic “That’s it/what’s next?” sort of vibe. I was talking with a friend earlier, and she pointed out that, although there are times in life to be humble, there are also times to say “Yeah, this was hard, but I did this.” The problem I’m having right now, beyond my general typical dismissing of my accomplishments, is that, I feel less like I’ve moved ahead so much as just finally caught up with where I should be. It’s like saying “Look at me! I filled in this hole!” Except that I’m the guy who dug the hole in the first place

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