Robyn Davidson: Venturing into the Untamed
When it comes to the realm of exploration and profound introspection, Robyn Davidson’s journey stands out, casting a long shadow over well-trodden paths. At Where the Wild Things Are, we revere such indomitable spirits that seek out the untamed, not just in the wild expanses of our planet, but within the complex confines of their souls.
Setting off from Alice Springs with just four camels and a dog, Davidson’s journey to the West coast of Australia wasn’t just a feat of endurance. It was a deep dive into cultural understanding and a personal testament to resilience.
“I started to meet Aboriginal mob out there and become very close to old Eddie who travelled with me. I just think they solved so many human problems with so little. And they made beautiful things. And they thought beautiful thoughts. So what more can you expect of a culture?” Davidson remarked, offering us a profound glimpse into the beauty she found in simplicity.
But Davidson’s tales of the wild aren’t confined to Australia. Her compass turned to India, where she lived with a nomadic tribe in Gujarat. Comparing this journey with her iconic trek in Australia, she stated,
“It was difficult for the people I was with; their lives were very difficult. Very, very, very difficult… Added to that was all sorts of other issues like not being able to understand the language, probably very intense sort of isolation, but at the same time never ever, ever, ever being allowed to be on my own. So it was this combination of no privacy, coupled with a kind of isolation. Whereas tracks somehow the opposite.”Robyn Davidson
Amidst these physical explorations, Davidson embarked on an introspective journey, penning her memoir, “Unfinished Woman.” Reflecting on this literary venture, she said, “The book certainly has been in my consciousness for at least two decades. I started thinking about my mum and the past, which I’d never done before… With literature, you have always raw material that is chaotic and has no coherence. And then you have to shape it and refine it to make it will be hopefully useful to other people in some way. So yes, it’s a process of taking your life and making art.”
Davidson’s explorations aren’t just of terrains and cultures but also of society and personal relationships. The gender dynamics of her family played a defining role in shaping her perspectives.
“My father was very masculine and therefore his world was circumscribed by a kind of notion of what the masculine is. And my mother, similarly was very limited to the expectations of women then, which was being a housewife and mother and that’s about it. Children absorb that from them parents, and then either they buck the system like I did, or they can accept it.”Robyn Davidson
In an age where the term ‘wild’ can encompass everything from untamed forests to unexplored emotions and stories, Davidson stands as a beacon for readers of Where the Wild Things Are. Her story is a potent reminder that sometimes, the most profound adventures lie in challenging the status quo and seeking the untamed within.
The Book: Unfinished Woman
In 1977, twenty-seven-year-old Robyn Davidson set off with a dog and four camels to cross 1,700 miles of Australian desert to the sea. A life of almost constant travelling followed. From the deserts of Australia, to Sydney’s underworld; from Sixties street life, to the London literary scene; from migrating with nomads in Tibet, to ‘marrying’ an Indian prince, Davidson’s quest was motivated by an unquenchable curiosity about other ways of seeing and understanding the world.
Davidson threw bombs over her shoulder and seeds into her future on the assumption that something would be growing when she got there. The only terrain she had no interest in exploring was the past. In Unfinished Woman Davidson turns at last to explore that long avoided country. Through this brave and revealing memoir, she delves into her childhood and youth to uncover the forces that set her on her path, and confront the cataclysm of her early loss.
Unfinished Woman is an unforgettable investigation of time and memory, and a powerful interrogation of how we can live with and find beauty in the uncertainty and strangeness of being.