Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Grabbing the brass ring

So, there I was sifting through endless articles about website promotion when suddenly I heard my 3 month old daughter give a cry of delight. She was sitting next to me in her bouncy seat and when I looked over to see what she was cooing about I couldn't help but smile myself.

The bouncy seat Allison was sitting in has a bar across the top that allows three rings to hang over the baby's head. Tonight, after nearly 2 months of trying, Allison finally managed to swing her arm out and hit the ring hanging from the bar over the seat. As I watched , Allie swung her arm toward the ring again and (a bit clumsily) managed to grasp it in her little hand. My daughter's face lit up as she realized she had finally achieved her goal - she had grabbed the brass (er... green) ring.

I still remember the first time the term "grabbing the brass ring" or "reaching for the brass ring" was explained to me. I was in a middle school history class and my teacher was trying to demonstrate how small, seemingly insignificant ideas can change the way that people think. He asked if any of us had heard the term before. Most of us had but no one seemed to know what it actually meant. My teacher went on to tell us the history behind the term.

Sometime in the 1880s or '90s Carousel owners began to offer a new challenge for riders by extending a ring (usually made of iron) on an arm on the outer edge of the carousel. Riders sitting near the outside of the carousel could attempt to grab the ring for added excitement. At some point one carousel owner decided to up the ante by making one of his rings out of brass. Whoever was able to grab the brass ring was rewarded with a free ride on the carousel. Word of this promotion spread and by the lat 1890's it was standard for carousels to offer this brass ring promotion.

As time passed "grabbing the brass ring" took on new meaning. The brass ring began to symbolize any goal that the "grabber" was trying to achieve. "Grabbing the brass ring" developed into a cultural phrase meaning "striving to achieve goals" or even "living life to it's fullest"

The brass ring may symbolize many different things to different people. For a baby, the brass ring may literally mean finally learning to reach and grasp a toy, or learning to crawl and eventually walk. For me, the brass ring symbolizes balance which has been difficult for me to achieve since my daughter was born.What does the brass ring symbolize for you?

I hope that you are working to grab your brass ring this year, whatever it may be. It won't always be easy but if my daughter's reaction to her success is any indication, achieving your goals makes all that hard work worthwhile.

For more information about the "brass ring":

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