I am becoming less and less attached to the young female finds herself genre;
the rows and rows of book covers featuring strong tanned white females gazing into the sunsets with sloppy grins, mangy hair, and fluorescent teeth. The promise of “life-changing”, “truly inspirational”, “will make you want to pack a bag and go save the orphans”.
But when I picked up Ffyona Campbell’s A Walk Around the World from the free bin at Cafe Korero, something subconscious prompted me to unzip my backpack and place the book inside.
Meant to be saved for a day when I wanted the twinge of adventure, I ended up immediately hooked on the first page. I tucked it in my backpack alongside my hammock one sunny Wednesday, and pedaled to Point Chevalier.
I read the book in two installments, both featuring the wildness of my hammock and solitary tide. Nay, I devoured the book, submersed in her style of introspection and messy truths to which I related.
There was one part in particular that ignited the hair on my arms.
She described kneeling down in the sand. She draws with one finger the beginning of a circle, dragging it along anti-clockwise. As she nears the start of the circle–and I expect a “circle complete” happy ending–she instead veers her finger down. Instead of connecting the circle, she continues to trace in a spiral direction.
Even just writing that out made my gut cartwheel.
This is not the typical clean finish to a written account of adventure. The, I started my journey to find myself and returned whole ending. That lovely warm bout of closure that wiggles up and through your body as you close the book–and then promptly forget the life lessons of struggle and misery contained in the chapters.
Ffyona Campbell didn’t draw a circle with her finger. She drew a spiral.
This, this very image, was real to me.
Most of the time, I don’t want closure. I didn’t want it when I left Austria, when I finished the 100 miler, when I finished Uni. And people would ask, “did you get closure?” and I would mumble something like sure, because to explain that I didn’t want it in the first place made me feel guilty.
Sometimes, I think, we don’t need closure. That what we actually search for is direction and a feeling of endlessness. We carry around these great chains of perfectly sutured links, but we can’t always grow properly if we keep recycling our steps.
There’s a big part of me that doesn’t want “it” to be completed, to be laid to rest.
Maybe this is denial. But I don’t want a chain; I want a messy spiral, messy direction with the promise of endlessness. That these things I’ve done, these places I’ve been, this person I’m becoming—it won’t end. Not by crossing the finish line, by getting on the plane, by hitting “publish”. It’s all part of the spiral.
I sometimes attribute my lack of closure to a lack of sentimentality—but I’m wondering if I’ve just been shorting myself. That it’s not dispassionate to keep going. It’s simply not envisioning the end of anything, in favor of the continuation of everything. The finish line exists more in the mind than anywhere else.
One day I shall not be as endless as I feel I am now. Perhaps, on that day, I’ll discover my spiral in full.
I suddenly realize how closely this aligns with my thoughts on being grounded—calm and collected, lumbering Purpose towards the end of the World.
Maybe this is the reason why I skip over the book covers of fist-pumping young women crossing finish lines, crying happy tears of accomplishment, hugging family members.
I can’t relate to those moments in my own version of young woman discovers herself. Those happy sum-ups on the last page, the “journey complete, I can rest” kind of moments.
I finish, and I know there’s more. And as soon as I credit these feelings as being simply discontent, selfishness, greed—I feel the great weight of a linked chain.
I wonder what it must feel like to write memoirs of a great adventure, knowing that life is still bold following a submitted manuscript. That you finish writing your story, but have much yet to live.
Hence the spiral in the sand.
Peace and Blessings,