walking round and round in circles
According to research I read on how we walk, hilariously enough …
‘we have a natural tendency to walk in ever tighter circles, when we firmly believe we’re going in a straight line’
As I set off for my walk, I suspected the insight on our natural trajectory wouldn’t help my sense of wellbeing.
Because for most of my life, too much time spent walking round and round in circles felt like shorthand for, my life is going nowhere just now. That is, ‘I’m only walking round and round in circles.’
Now I read it was even worse. ‘Not only is going round in circles natural to us, they are ever decreasing circles.’
So – this alarming nowhere my life seems naturally to curve towards, will be a pretty tight and tiny spot when I inevitably grind to a halt. Because there is nowhere else to go. Then what – I just disappear … game over? The research didn’t say.
This is not a cool feeling in a connected age, where one tap on a screen shows you everyone else aiming themselves like an arrow towards somewhere exciting, important or useful. And sending lovely pictures from their (linear) journey. I can do my nice pictures, but they’re mostly the farm
As a stay at home Mum, I wiped bottoms and mopped floors for 20 years. And I worked through the whole of the Oxford Reading Scheme (5-11 yr olds) four times over – with its vocabulary enhancing tales of Biff, Chip and their dog, Kipper. In one corner of my mind I thought, when I’ve done this for the last time, I shall set out on my own life. Part of me wanted to dis-own something in that life. And I think it was the repetition.
How stupid could I be?
The more I walk this circle round the fields, walking through the repetitions of every season, the more solid I feel. Mostly, not always. But, mostly a bit wrinkly, scarred, weather beaten with bits fallen off, but irrefutably there. With some of the slow grown trees I keep passing. Durable.
The things I walk among seem to lend me a little of their durability. I am very grateful to them and happy to borrow it. The process of circling inwards seems to have condensed the matter of the soul or self or person – however we choose to describe ourselves. The circular repetitive walk is both concentrating and liberating together.
I feel the weight of the landscape in me as I circle – I feel present in this place and part of it.
‘I only went out for a walk,’ said John Muir, the naturalist, ‘and … going out, I found, was really going in.’ Going in to yourself, sure, but also into the landscape.
My walking may naturally incline in a diminishing circling, but perhaps to a point where the inner and outer landscape meet.