The spiral

It’s astonishing, the stuff I’ll do to avoid sitting down to write. I mean. There’s hardly anything I love more and yet today I spent a spare hour sifting through eight years’ worth of  art supplies in order to clear a couple of boxes cluttering up our living room.

Sure, the room looks much better for it. And I finally have a little of my decluttering mojo back! But… really?

Inspired by Robert Moss’ Sidewalk Oracles, I decided to conduct a little bibiliomancy, to see if I couldn’t lure myself back to the laptop. I opened the aforementioned book to this:

To walk the spiral of life is to notice each time you come to a choice or a situation that resembles one you have encountered before, and then apply what you can learn from the past experience to avoid repeating mistakes.


I’ve been rereading five years’ worth of blog posts over the past couple of weeks. I had all the posts of my old blog printed into small books, in anticipation of deleting the whole thing in a couple of weeks. Last night, my therapist and I talked a bit about the experience of revisiting my self from six years ago and all the things I found my present self wanting to tell that girl. “I’m curious: what,” asked my therapist, “did that girl have to say to you?” 

When I started that blog in January 2010, I was keen to join a conversation I saw other people having. I wanted a space to share my forays into artmaking and a safe little corner in which to practice calling myself a writer. As time went on, however, it was clear that all was not well in that girl’s world. Increasingly, the narrative became about a mental health journey: falling apart, seeking help and falling apart over and over.

At that time, I didn’t understand all the forces at work that made me feel so damn awful every day. I wanted the horrid feelings (especially the crushing self-talk) to stop. I would have given anything to be “fixed” and every post is redolent of a girl struggling to find a teachable moment in every ghastly situation… usually in the form of a pithy one liner that summed everything up and made it OK. But the truth was, things weren’t OK, no matter how hard I worked. And I worked bloody hard.

One of the things I was especially discouraged by was the fact that the same things seemed to trip me up. I can’t believe I’m here again! I thought I had dealt with this! I thought I was over this, better than this!! I’m so stupid, stupid, stupid!!! That, and my therapist’s tendency to piss on my parade by forcing me to consider all the unsatisfactory aspects of my character and relationships if I made the mistake of admitting that, at that moment, I was actually feeling good.


All these years later, I see how worthwhile a journey it was and I am grateful for the five tiny time capsules that are evidence of my tenacity, even if I couldn’t see it at the time. I’m also grateful to have a different therapist and our weekly sessions which are less about trying to fix or unpick or challenge things than just noticing with compassion and seeing emerges.

Robert Moss’ analysis of the spiral reminded me that I recently received the following observations:

When it comes to healing, many people become frustrated when the same pattern emerges again and again. I’ve found that we can only heal at the level of consciousness of which we are aware. I had healed so much of my rejection and felt I had completed a cycle.

However, I had not closed a single flat circle. I had completed another loop on a healing spiral that ascends into ever-evolving levels of awareness. The pattern was the same but I had changed.

Rochelle Schiek
QOYA: A compass for Navigating an Embodied Life that is Wise, Wild and Free

Linear living is goal-oriented and filled with expectations. We live linearly when we believe that if we do A and then B and then C we will arrive at D. Or, when we expect something to already be done. Impatience, judgement, stress and frustration can be the result of too much linear living and thinking.

While there are plenty of places that linear thinking is invaluable (such as balancing your checkbook, following a specific recipe or organizing a large business project), living life as if it were predictably linear is a huge hindrance to creativity, joy and sanity.

[…] In ancient times, individuals and communities hared in the cyclical changes of nature by gathering to celebrate the equinoxes and solstices. Every part of the cycle, from recent deaths to new births was honoured. Coming together in community gave all the people a pause from their day-to-day life to witness the cycles of change in their community, and a marker to notice what had changed for them internally since the last gathering.

[…] Sometimes that new seed of change germinates, sometimes it doesn’t. To give a new idea, relationship or intent the best chance for growth, we need to listen to its needs and consciously nourish it with our attention, presence and care – just like a tender plant. We are learning along the way. And everything has a life cycle. When something falls apart or dies, we honour the cycle of letting go and grieving until we can look back in gratitude. We can then explore what tweaks we might want to make for the next cycle.

HeatherAsh Amara
Warrior Goddess Training: Become the Woman you are Meant to Be

For the first time in my life, I have the opportunity to live free of linear expectations. The spiral beckons.