Rebecca Chong, a special friend I’ve known for a while, had no idea she created a staple Juan-and-Charise-ism through her comments about Chipotle burritos.

Clearly, some context is needed here. Charise and I volunteer with a youth leadership non-profit that involves recruiting young adults to serve as small-group mentors to high school students. Rebecca was one of our volunteers this past May, and I met with her at a Chipotle in Orlando almost a year earlier to ask her if she would volunteer with us. During our final volunteer staff reflection, which traditionally involves Chipotle for lunch, Rebecca said, in a much more ela-guent way, “A year ago Juan and I were eating Chipotle burritos and talking about this weekend. Now it’s over, and here we are eating Chiptole again. I’m reminded that life is so cyclical.”

Charise and I shot each other an immediate glance from opposite sides of the table. Using a beautiful burrito metaphor, Rebecca spoke the damn truth: life really can be cyclical. Cycles can be revisitations to a certain physical place, mental place, or way of being. Here’s how cycles may function in our lives:

Physical places: I used to think I had detachment issues because I always seemed to repeat experiences I already had. For example, I ended up volunteering for the summer camps I attended. I came back to the non-profit I mentioned earlier and volunteered for many years. I taught professionally at my high school. Now I professionally work at my first university alma mater. I find it interesting that despite being a person who believes there are so many sights to see and so many new people to meet, my physical path has been a consistent revisitation to old stomping grounds.

Mental places: My therapy experience has taught me that patterns of thinking exist across aspects of our lives. The same joys, triggers, and anxieties that influence our friendships, for example, have the same effect on our professional life, love life, and other parts of our world. Have you ever experienced a certain scent, sound, tone of voice, or other sensation that made you say, “[This experience] brought me back to that place?” Our guides want us to note the patterns of those experiences as a way to guide us to resolution.

Ways of being: Right when I left K-12 teaching and re-entered graduate school, I ate uncontrollably. I lost over 100 pounds during my freshman year of college, so you can imagine that eating uncontrollably is something I had experience doing earlier in my life. A little later that year, my dating insecurities led me to obsess over monitoring my boyfriend’s social media accounts–an unhealthy behavior I abandoned some time ago. Both of these instances woke me up. I never thought I’d I re-enter a way of being I hadn’t known in some time, but recognizing the cycle helped me make sense of the why.

Cycles can be considered a sign of unfinished spiritual business. Don’t confuse a cyclical revisit to be a lack of personal progress; there’s a big difference between experiencing cycles and repeating known mistakes. In fact, for Rebecca, that big, beautiful burrito dangling from her mouth, guac and all, was an affirmation that she went on the right journey. I’m glad she did.

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