The Inner Ring, an essay written by C.S. Lewis, was a powerful essay written on the "inner rings" that are always present in our lives. By the inner rings, Lewis is talking about the exclusive circles that we always want to be part of. This essay didn't have anything that was necessarily a brand new idea. That is one thing that I really admire about Lewis' writing. He presents information that we already probably know, but puts it into a new light so that we are able to reflect and apply it to our own lives.
We are surrounded by many "inner rings" as Lewis describes them. We are inside some of them, and outside of others. Lewis says that we encounter these rings from the day we are born: "...in many men's lives at all periods between infancy and extreme old age, one of he most dominant elements is the desire to be inside the local Ring and the terror of being left outside." Throughout our whole lives, we are always seeking and longing for acceptance. We work so hard to get into the next, more exclusive circle. The problem, Lewis says, is not the inner rings themselves: "I am not going to say that the existence of Inner Rings is an Evil. It is certainly unavoidable." He says the problem lies in the desire we have to get into these groups: "Let Inner Rings be unavoidable and even an innocent feature of life, though certainly not a beautiful one: but what of our longing to enter them, our anguish when we are excluded, and the kind of pleasure we feel when we get in?"
Not only do we long to get into these rings, but as soon as we finally get into the ring that looks good to us, we immediately want to get into the next ring. I find I have this way too much in my own life. I play the violin, and I am always looking for the next piece that I can play. I am always comparing myself to others who play pieces that seem to be much more difficult than the one that I am currently working on. I always think that once I play and conquer a certain piece, then I'll be completely satisfied. However, it doesn't work that way. As soon as I start working on a piece, I'm already thinking about the person in the practice room next to me who's working on a cooler, more difficult piece and I want to play what they are.
How can we combat these inner rings that are so prevalent in our lives? Lewis says, "The quest of the Inner Ring will break your hearts unless you break it." He is challenging us to not pursue getting into an exclusive inner ring; however, this is much easier said than done. If we are thankful for what God has given us and are not jealous of others, this may be a step in the right direction.