While in conversation at one of the holiday social events I attended, a friend was relating a story. I don’t quite recall the details, but one thing she said has stayed with me: “After that, his opinion changed 360 degrees!”
Now, I know this person well enough to understand what she meant to say – that the subject of her story ‘did a 180’ – a complete turnaround – in his point of view. Of course, I didn’t laugh when she misspoke because I am prone to the same. But later I realized that this is more than just a mangled figure of speech; maybe ‘doing a 360’ is just as legitimate in life as it is in extreme sports, and maybe just as reasonable as ‘doing a 180.’
Let’s take attitude or opinion, since that was the original statement. Say a person who holds to a belief decides to open his mind or heart and look at it from a different angle, even the one in direct opposition. I have known a few people who went to parochial schools and ended up atheist or agnostic, in what could be considered a ‘throw the baby out with the bathwater’ reaction to their parents’ religion or spiritual outlook. They’ve done a 180.
Sometimes, people do make drastic change in their outlook in response to an event. An overweight smoker who has a heart attack at age 48 is a prime candidate for a change of heart, as is a wasteful spender who has lost her job and now lives on a budget. It’s not always a change you want to make.
Oftentimes, however, people who stray from their comfort zones into the wilderness of unfamiliarity come charging back with renewed attachment to their old beliefs. They’ve done a 360.
But 360s come in many forms. What about your life path? Can’t you do a 360 in your life, as well? Is that like déjà vu, where you ‘know’ you’ve been there before? Is doing a 360 the same as running in place or standing still? Maybe you were studious and conformist in school, but spent your twenties in wild haze; when you settle back down in your thirties, is that doing a 360?
I like to think that doing a 360 is not the same as running in place, even though you end up in the same spot you were before. It isn’t actually the same spot, though, is it? Time has passed. Growth isn’t necessarily linear. Sometimes our life paths veer off in strange directions, only to return. Sometimes they do a loop-the-loop and you find yourself relearning the lesson and retracing the steps. (Which raises the question: If you have to relearn it, did you grasp it in the first place?)
Doing a 360 might be shedding the old, trying out the new, and changing the viewing angle in your life. Maybe it’s coming back to the same place but with a different state of mind. My friend says, “I think doing a 360 change is growing up and growing out and realizing another angle of how to look at the same old things and making them new.”
Which is why I’ve decided that I’m doing a 360 in 2013.