Image: Si on sky bridge in Anhui Province- China
I was cycling along through the desert en route to Hami a few months ago when the kernel of an idea popped into my head. I recorded the following on my dictaphone.
The landscape is a dusty monochrome of khaki brown. Its flat. The sky is high, wrapped around me like an azure dome. I must be below a flight path as the space above is streaked with a cotton wool like trail in wide arc’s.
I’m cycling west and these streaks come from the east behind me, swoop over me and it looks like they are diving off into the distance. Obviously, the airplanes are flying in, what appears to the pilots as a straight line, in the same way that my straight line west would look like an arc to someone 8km below me.
Cycling along on the flat earth in the desert in western china, and the earth’s curvature is staring me in the face. I’m reminded that what seems like a straight line is actually an arc.
Each morning the the sun rises behind me, travels around my left flank then sets before me in an orange blaze.
Its a practical reminder of the nature of our circumnavigation, of how it’s possible for one to travel consistently in one direction, never look or turn back, and eventually arrive back at the precise point where you began.
I’ve been thinking about full circles ever since. Metaphorically the concept opens lots of doors, it reminds me of my favourite quote, a simple line from from the simulcraneaic masterpiece Vanilla sky; “every passing minute is another chance to turn it all around”.
Then it makes me think of the following extract from TS Eliot’s Little Gidding, that I promised myself I wouldn’t post again until we got home:
We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.
Through the unknown, unremembered gate
When the last of earth left to discover
Is that which was the beginning;
At the source of the longest river
The voice of the hidden waterfall
And the children in the apple-tree
Not known, because not looked for
But heard, half-heard, in the stillness
Between two waves of the sea.
Finally, and rather aptly, it brings me back to the begining, to the very conception of this little project of ours, when
Si,Paul and I spent months sweating on our branding, logo, and concept. And eventually decided that Revolution best captured our feelings about the circumnavigation:
a drastic and far-reaching change in ways of thinking and behaving;
a single complete turn(axial or orbital)
As you can probably tell, I like the idea that the world is round, things are cyclical, and that at some point the last will be first. And given that the world has been through 365 revolutions and 1 full wobble since we left Greystones this time last year, I’ve been thinking of full circles quite a bit of late.