The Best Literary Writing About Mothers and Motherhood
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The Last Resort: Directions When Moving Without a Map by Margot Saffer

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At the end of the world, you turn left, not a complete left, more like a 45°. Now, this is not something you want to get wrong, because if you take a wrong turn, you might just end up back in the middle of your world again… and think about how long it has taken you to get to the end…

So you take a 45° left turn, the clock tower will be behind you. Don’t turn to check, trust that. What  other indicators can I give you of what’s in front of you to show you’re going the right way? Well, there’ll be nothing to see, because that’s what the end is like. It’s not visible. It is possible to see it, but in an invisible kind of way.

There is a sound though, but not one you’d be able to hear – I don’t know – do you listen to music? are you sensitive to the rustling of leaves? or the vibration of an approaching train? That is something you need to answer for yourself. But if you aren’t – there is one way of knowing you are approaching The Last Resort. You can take a caterpillar with you.

Be sure it doesn’t hurt you and you don’t hurt it. Hold it ever so carefully, but don’t close up around it – it will need space. Because when you begin your approach, it will hear the sound that comes from The Last Resort, and begin to spin a cocoon. When you see the threads spread from the creature, you will know your direction is true.

Keep walking. Know the road is beneath you although you may not feel the ground. You will be approaching The Last Resort, although it is not sign-posted.

The walk will take as long as the caterpillar is in his cocoon. Or, otherwisely, the caterpillar will be in his cocoon for as long as the walk takes you.

This is a good time to remind yourself of the route you took to get from The Middle of Your Life to The Last Resort. Did you leave sweets or seeds along the way to get you back? Did you not because you don’t want to go back? Think about why you took this journey. Most people who do tell me that they had no option – it was not a choice they made. They just started walking, until they got to here, to The End.

For some people, getting Here is enough. Others, like you, go further, need to end up at The Last Resort. But it’s harder to get there than you first thought.

Follow my directions, traveller, and you will be there by the time the caterpillar is a butterfly.


margot-saffer-sailingMargot Saffer is a writer and a body psychotherapist. She is interested in people and their stories and how we tell our stories. (She holds a Masters in Life-Writing – biography and memoir.) She is originally South African and currently lives on a boat in the ancient Jaffa Port. .

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