I have a problem with finishing things; or not finishing things? I don’t have a problem unless I don’t finish the things I start, so whichever way that dilemma is stated, that is what I have. I’ve been reading the book The Solace of Open Spaces which is about a woman who gives up her city life in New York to become a sheepherder in Wyoming. I didn’t know just how much the book would be about the life of a sheepherder in the late 70’s/early 80’s (it really doesn’t mention that at all on the cover), so I figured it would be a great book for me to be reading as I wandered through the wide open spaces of Montana and Wyoming. It started out pretty intriguing with her descriptions of the vast open lands in Wyoming, and admittedly as I started reading it in Montana, it sparked little flares of excitement about the journey I was about to embark on. A couple nights before I left Montana, I read a quote that resonated so strongly with me that I thought it might’ve been the reason I read the book – “to be tough is to be fragile, to be tender is to be truly fierce.” I read on, hungry for more wisdom from the woman who sought out a little more rough & wild lifestyle than she had been accustomed to.
Unfortunately, part of the way through my trip/reading, I hit a lull. I wasn’t prepared for what seemed like endless pages and chapters solely describing what life was like as a sheepherder back in the day, and I felt like I wasn’t really able to connect with the book anymore. I dragged my feet when it came to continuing reading, but when asked why I didn’t just stop and move on, I noted that I have a problem with not finishing things. Over two-thirds through the book now, I couldn’t just leave it unfinished or it would bother me until I eventually sought it out to finish or dreamed endlessly of what might’ve happened in those last pages.
I decided to stick to it and no matter how tedious it might seem, I would just have to take it little chunks at a time until I finished; but I finished my last thirty-ish pages in one day. Luckily, as I had hoped, the last section was significantly more saturated with meaningful words and stories than the rest of the book had been. In finishing it I found inspiration both in the act of following through to the end, and in the specific stories and ideas the writer had shared. As I laid on the beach, ruminating in the satisfaction of actually finishing this book, I contemplated how pleasing the rewards can be when you stick to something despite challenges. In this case, my challenge was to stick with something, relatively unnecessary or vital, despite the lulls encountered. As I contemplated this, I realized that this concept can be applied to many aspects of life – jobs, projects, relationships, and so on. I think many people could relate to this sentiment, whether you got bored of a job or gave up on a relationship because you hit a rut, or in whichever avenue the challenge of sticking through the low times manifested.
Spending the week with my entire family + significant others… well, I love my family but I think anyone who’s spent an extended and condensed amount of time with their family might be able to understand that sometimes tensions arise. And having spent much time on the road this summer, primarily concerned with following my desires and being able to jump ship and drive away at any time, I’ll admit that momentarily the temptation to leave had crossed my mind. Symbolically, I had also lost the wing (again!) to my tree & wing necklace upon arriving to this family cabin, and it was suggested to me by a wise man that it meant perhaps I was supposed to focus on my roots.
So I stuck through it, and as I observe everyone happily engaging in their own conversations and activities pre-dinner tonight, I can see that it was totally worth it. Furthermore, in continuing to stay, a dear and beautiful friend ended up coming to visit for the day; a friend whom I had connected with at the yoga sanctuary, the very first place I stayed at on this wild summer adventure, and the place that had made me feel very grounded in following my path. We spent the afternoon on the beach, exchanging stories of our summers, talking about life at the yoga sanctuary (and how much of an internal and solo journey it is), and discussing possibilities of what may come in the future for each of us. Somehow, spending the day with someone who played such a significant role in the beginning of my trip managed to create some sense of closure. I was finishing the book as similarly as I was finishing my trip. ‘Coincidentally,’ the book finished as she described late August ceremonies (the ceremonies she discussed related easily to the ceremonies of weddings and reunions I am going through), and moving into the fall months.
As I drove away from the beach with my friend, I realized that the “Of Monsters & Men” cd was playing; I remembered that when I drove away from the yoga sanctuary two-and-a-half months ago one of their songs had been playing and had felt very poignant to me continuing on my personal journey despite feeling a desire to stay there longer. I played it for her, mentioning that it was playing when I got in my car to leave at our last teary-eyed departure. As we drove listening to the lyrics, it seems like somehow, deep in my soul, I must’ve known that I would eventually get to this ‘place’ – the place of being exactly where I was supposed to be… at the end of my journey.
When I was discussing my struggles with finishing the book with a friend, they responded that a problem with finishing things "sounds like the best kind of problem to have!” And as I’ve finished these things I set out to complete, I’ve decided that he was right. Sometimes sticking through to the end is rewarding, not because there’s some hugely important lesson or meaning to it (beyond the simple satisfaction of finishing what you started), but because in seeing something through to completion, you are able to move on knowing that you finished that ‘chapter,’ so to say. And right now, I just feel satisfied with the endings and excited to start both a new book and a new adventure.
Stories from the road-trip that inspired moving to the PNW, and other travel adventures.