Star Spinner

My family plays a game called Star Spinner. You go outside when it’s dark and find a large field (or at the very least, a space moderately free of dangerous obstacles). One person has a flashlight (turned off for the time being) and heads away from the group. Everyone playing holds his/her arms out to their sides and spins and spins and spins, until from far away the flashlight holder yells, “Go!” and turns on the light.

Dizzy and blind—laughing hysterically, shrieking with nervousness or moaning with a sick feeling of nausea—each person runs as fast at they can (which is always, at best, some lurching, stumbling gait) toward the light.

I’ve played many times, but I’m still not sure who wins. I think the person who gets closest to the target thinks it’s him, but really it’s anyone who participates, who runs stumbling toward their goal, who gets up after falling, who perseveres in spite of the nagging, sensible voices in their heads and the fear (it’s dark; you’re dizzy; you might fall; stand still for crying out loud, stand still!).

Lying (inevitably) on the cool grass, staring up at the stars, still feeling slightly queasy (from spinning, from laughing, from nerves), it doesn’t matter how far you got. You’re just pleased you played. You were dizzy, had no idea where to go, but you ran full out.

Star Spinner—in addition to being just a crazy amount of fun—has always struck me as a powerful metaphor for various aspects of life: for writing, for faith, for relationships. . . .

I can only see so much—and half the time I’m anxious beyond words—but if I push past that and run screaming and laughing into the dark, I overcome fear and realize I’m completely exhilarated. The goal is often still shining somewhere beyond me, but the more I play, the more that part doesn’t matter.

10 thoughts on “Star Spinner

  1. well, I’m all warmed up and ready to head to an audition – what a great post to read! Here I go — yipeeeeeeeee!!

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  2. Hi, I just stumbled upon your blog and would like to say I liked this post a lot. While I wouldn’t like to play (I know, I know, but I really do get sick/dizzy so fast), I think the metaphor is great. It takes a strong stomach, though, one that I hope I have in other areas (those who involve less spinning).

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  3. Dear M. Howalt,

    Thanks for popping by; I hope you visit again. If you relate to the metaphor, I think you probably do live it in other areas. And re: “I really do get sick/dizzy so fast”–I know how that feels. I can rock Star Spinner, but tire swings? No, no, no! Just the metal smell of their chains makes my mouth sweat and my stomach roll.

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  4. Ev, I love your description of playing Star Spinner, and the lesson that goes with it. I have never played this game, but it reminds me of something that I like to do sometimes — walk alone on trails through the bush on a dark night. It elicits similar feelings of nervousness, perseverance, and exhilaration. It is a reminder of the value of challenges, and of having faith in oneself.

    p.s. I only walk on *familiar* trails in the dark. I don’t want to actually get lost.

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