By Terry Alburger, Life Engagement Coordinator

I have always been intrigued by spirals. When strolling on the beach each summer, my quest is always spiral seashells — snails, whelk shells, baby’s ears, keyhole limpets, the list goes on. Spirals fascinate me.

The spiral is one of the oldest geometric shapes found throughout the world. There are petroglyphs of spirals dating back to the Neolithic period. Interestingly enough, this symbol was used consistently throughout cultures of the ancient world, though there was little or no communication amongst them.

And then there is the Fibonacci sequence. Fibonacci, an Italian merchant, first introduced his sequence in the early 1200s. In the Fibonacci sequence, a number is found by adding the two numbers preceding it. Starting with 0, the sequence is 0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, etc. Incredibly enough, this sequence, when plotted in an array of squares, forms a spiral. I’m not a mathematician, but I still find this to be amazing.

Indeed, the spiral is a powerful symbol of strength, creation and growth. And it is present everywhere. Have you ever examined a pine cone or the center of a sunflower or leaf arrangements in plants or pineapple scales? All are spirals. Spirals exist in animals and nature. Powerful forces such as tornadoes, hurricanes and even spinning galaxies are all in spirals.

Spirals exist in the form of vortices. A vortex, or whirling mass of fluid, creates whirlpools and eddies, which move in a circular motion. This motion is so powerful, it may create a cavity or vacuum in the center. Indeed, spirals are powerful.

So, what happens when we get stuck in one, figuratively speaking? We’ve all felt trapped by circumstances beyond our control at one time or another. And, just like within a spiral, it seems that there is no escape. The common idiom “a downward spiral” portrays a strong image and seems an accurate depiction of an overwhelming situation which could deteriorate quickly.

When feeling like this, the thing to remember is that there is always help, always a way to escape that figurative vortex. The first step is always to identify and then ultimately conquer the fear associated with the struggle. Fear of failure, fear of confronting a person or situation, fear of loss, fear of challenge — whatever your fear may be, it’s OK. Once you have a game plan, you can begin that climb out of the spiral. Gauge what you can control and what you cannot and act accordingly. And remember, you do not have to face it alone. Friends, family, compassionate organizations, even hotlines can offer assistance and support. You have but to ask.

Remember, facing up to struggles, to your particular spirals, will make you stronger. These struggles are temporary; this too shall pass. When I was young, I had an aunt who gave me some great advice, which I have taken to heart. She said, “If there is a cure, why worry? And if there is no cure, why worry?” So, try to avoid those downward spirals. Do the things that make you happy, that help to bring you serenity. Take a walk on the beach. Pick up a seashell. Enjoy the spiral.

Terry Alburger is the Life Engagement Coordinator at Brittany Pointe Estates, an Acts Retirement-Life Community in Lansdale, Pennsylvania. This column was published online by Montgomery Media on November 13, 2017.