Sep 24, 2009

The Angle of Repose.


I have been thinking about blogging about what an angle of repose is for awhile. And then the other day I was reading on Scribbit's blog about this great book by Wallace Stegner called Crossing To Safety and it motivated me to write my blog about it. You see Wallace Stegner also wrote an amazing book called Angle Of Repose. It is one of my favorite books. From the opening sentence I fell in love with the way Wallace writes. But this blog is really not about the book it is about an angle of repose. Do you know what that is?

Well let me see if I can explain it.

To do this we are going to have to pretend you are here.....wait I have to get out of my sweats if you are here. So hang on. Okay, now let's sit on my very "sinky" couches in my living room. They are navy, red and yellow plaid. We have had them for way too long but they keep me humble and they are comfortable. I have heard rumor that these very couches are in some apartments at BYU Idaho. That brings me untold joy to know that :) Any way I like to sit with my legs tucked under me on these couches. And where you are sitting when you talk is actually very important. If you are talking about something that you love that you can talk about forever you can sit somewhere comfortable because conversation about this topic comes oh so easy. If it was a conversation about math we would have to sit at the table so I could concentrate. I do not have to concentrate when I talk about angle of repose. But you do have to be here because it is easiest to show someone what it is.

So imagine we have a pile of bulk granular material....like sand or salt....let's use sand since I happen to have some in the garage. So stay there and I will go get it. Did you look under my couch to see if there was dust while I was gone? I thought you would. Now we are going to dump this container out on a horizontal surface. Did that word horizontal throw you off? It is just a fancy word for the table. In our case it will be the coffee table from Ikea that is between my couches. Now did you notice when we poured out the sand it made a conical pile? Yes, I use the word conical frequently don't you? Okay now here comes the best part...the internal angle between the surface of the sand and the surface of our table is....dum, dum dah dum.....the angle of repose. It's the angle where a pile forms with the ground.... AKA "horizontal surface." Some materials have a low angle of repose and thus make a flatter piles than materials with a high angle of repose.

So what does this have to do with anything? Well in Wallace's book he has a man telling the story of his grandma and grandpa. They are long since dead but he is writing about their life and he talks about how angle of repose happens in life. He wonders if his grandma ever settled into her angle of repose or did she always long for something else? There comes a point where things just settle and we have to accept them....actually just embrace them....so there should be day when you no longer long for something. Please tell me I am not the only person who longs for things? Will I some day be content? Imagine your life slowly pouring into a pile on a horizontal surface when will it find it's angle of repose? I confess I am always fighting against my angle of repose. Are you too? Then we should chat on my couch more often :)

Well speaking of couch, I have to get off the couch now and face my Thursday list. You can stay. But remember I will want to know every single thing about you because I am so weird.

4 comments:

Joan said...

My opinion: We have to reach the angle of repose many times in our life. It is not a one-time, "some day I'll get there" proposition. Every time things change (someone steps in our pile of life sand and gets everything shifting), we have to work to arrive at it again.

BTW...read Crossing to Safety!!! It will make you think as much as Angle of Repose!

Melissa said...

You know I love our friend Wallace. Crossing to Safety is a great read- put it on your list!

The Motherboard said...

I loved Angle of Repose. I read it YEARS ago! Great analogy... I remember telling my mission president I was content. He told me that that meant it was time for me to grow. I wonder if that is the same thing? food for thought!

Great post!

Jenny said...

Ok, this post is very ironic. Because I have the book Angle of Repose on my desk just waiting for the right motivation for me to crack it open. I read Crossing to Safety a few years ago and just fell in absolute love with it. And when I was at the library a few weeks ago, I went to that aisle and came to the conclusion that I needed to read Angle of Repose because it was by the same author. So, thank you, Jennifer, for giving me a reason to actually read the book that I have checked out. Because I think I actually only read about 16% of the books that I bring home.