Two Sailing Wait
Recently, en-route home after an exhilarating art retreat in Port Townsend, I was reminded of several life lessons which I have yet to master. Struggles which have become only more poignant living on a small island. As a result of being delayed at the border by our favourite power and control freak type of customs officer (one that spends far too long with every vehicle exerting their influence, despite the hour of backed up traffic), I missed my ferry home by yes, a few precious minutes. So, a fraction of a second before I bellowed about that aggravation, I rather -- reflected on the lessons before me.
Ironically, this class remained rather intense, as the next ferry I caught was then forced to turn back to shore due to a medical emergency. “AH”... I worried, “will I make it home today? If I don't meet my connecting ferry, I will have to overnight elsewhere.” There is no doubt, life is made both interesting and logistically challenging, by the choice of Island living.
Ergo, here is my list of the top 8 lessons I have learned living on a small island:
Mother Nature Rules. Respect her. The environment, including our animal friends of course, is the most important element to consider. You pay for the disposal of your garbage. You Recycle everything so packaging, specifically the ubiquitous villain plastic, will not end up in a whale's belly or your food chain. This you do yourself sorting at the depot, not leaving it at the curb. You composte. In other words, waste not, want not. During drought or not, conserve water. Be supremely careful about fire, sparks and human ignorance in this domain. I Notice my huge footprint, even when trying to walk softly and barefoot.
Mother nature will also handily remind us that she can and will knock out your power and cancel your ocean sailing in a heartbeat should she choose, with no apologies.
News travels fast so be extra kind and keep your nose clean. This also includes being careful about whom you invite to dinner. We are interdependent no matter how much we value privacy and independence. Be neighbourly. Even 'Strangers' notice your haircuts here, pay attention.
Someone else is always entranced with the ferry ride you now find tedious and if you observe their enjoyment and excitement it revives your own and becomes contagious.
Skype is 2nd best to in person connection and keeps friends and family close. By all means connect with your community and locals but don't forget the world beyond island borders. Stay connected!
Support your local economy, but remember, Mail order is your secret friend. Amen.
You're not 'almost there' until you've landed because your travel depends on too many variables namely other people. (One road in and out leaves you vulnerable to damage after storms, flooding, tragic accident closures, unexpected ferry cancellations, tourists and medical incidents rerouting ships). IT is an ever present reminder that life is complicated and life is indeed what happens to you when you are busy making plans. Planning is an art, not a science.
As a large ferry turning back to port for a medical emergency will demonstrate, someone else is almost always having a worse day than you are no matter how inconvenienced you may feel, and extending compassion lessons the sting and softens you, also keeping the stress response at bay.
And finally, ( thunderous drum roll please) .....The....... number... .... One........ Lesson........ Learned from living life on an island,
Accepting when ..... “that ship has sailed” baby.
And you may not be on it. Grappling with ferry life can lead to the art, (and great challenge) of ACCEPTANCE: the grace to accept hard realities, lack of control and staying flexible. The lesson is understanding that both wishing and denial won't make it so. I was reminded of how many times in life I have simply resisted the reality of what is,(often forced change or loss) because I didn't want it to be so, and the enormous suffering that this can cause. How much wiser to recognize and accept the realities in the moment and move on.
Let the irritation go, the illusions, the resistance...it is all a drain of valuable energy.
When you watch a ship literally sail away from you, as you stand on the dock ''powerless'' and longing, left in its wake; YOU GET IT. It is humbling, yes, AND it presents you with a choice.
Be present and make the most of the moment; enjoy. Acceptance is your new bff. SURE, have a brief snit if you must, (write a complaint to the Ferry company for improved schedules, prioritizing residents etc) and then take a deep breath, and retool.
Take action when you can, let go of what cannot be changed, and enjoy the reality even when not planned upon. During those endless waits for ferry lines, try blowing bubbles, doodling, puzzles or juggling...because long waits are inevitable. Wise islanders can often be seen enjoying the value of power naps, or studying a new language.
IT would appear then, inherent in all of this, that arriving safely remains a sweet privilege, never a guarantee.
It remains an inescapable truth that it is the journey where lessons and our messy, juicy lives are hard won.