See that little raft up there? See where it is? What’s the first thing
that comes to mind? Got it?
Let me tell you what I see. A place… of course. A quiet, serene,
untarnished place. Isolated, vast; alive, ever-changing. Challenging?
Sure, it’s nature. It’s real life. No people, no strip malls, no conveniences.
It sounds and smells of real life, of difficulty, of survival. Sure, it looks
challenging, even foreign. And that’s really strange, because in truth, it’s home.
Does it beckon? That’s an important question, because an honest
answer from each of us can tell us much about ourselves. For if
it doesn’t beckon to us, to come aboard, experience it, be a part of it,
*be there* – then perhaps it suggests fear, loneliness, even
helplessness. If so, that would be sad, for this place is one of the
truly beautiful, natural, un-touched places left on our planet.
Untouched? Probably not, few places left on this earth have survived
without our finger prints on them in one way or another. Go to either
the Arctic or the Antarctic and you’ll find men, machines, quonset huts
and oil rigs. Go deep into the rain forests of South America and… well,
you get the idea. This special place in the Pacific Northwest is no
different, in that there has been measurable amounts of radiation in
some of the debris that has washed ashore south of here, from the
meltdown in Japan several years ago. Small potatoes, however, when
you consider I’ve seen orcas, seals and eagles from the raft… sometimes
almost daily. The salmon here are plentiful and delicious, and one of
my favorite things is how the air smells. If I could bottle it, I’d be rich.
Wait… I AM rich, just being here.
Actually, I don’t see that picture up there so much as I… feel it. It’s me,
maybe from another time, another life. To see that picture is to see its
tangibles, but to feel it puts it, and us, into another dimension. It becomes
a fascinating group of intangibles… of freedom, of timelessness, of simplicity
When I first started spending time on the raft, the feeling of completeness
was nearly overwhelming. Most of my life has been spent in the urban
wilderness, probably much like yours, and to be out there on the raft is to slip
into a meditation-like frame of mind where everything is pure, and everything
is possible. It has changed me, and I’d guess it can change anyone who
has lived with deadlines, traffic jams, noise and smelly air. I can tell you
this… it’s a culture shock, and it has lasting effects. Once you embrace
its remoteness, strength and peace, you lose the need for anything else.
It is magically fulfilling. I’ve even become aware of the ebb and flow of
the tides, of the weather patterns, of the sea and bird life here, and perhaps
of life itself. It’s fairly incredible where one’s mind can wander to, when it has
the time to wander.
I was fishing on the raft one evening recently, feeling very much at home
and relaxed. It occurred to me how safe and secure I felt, maybe safer than I
ever had. Out here in the North Sound? How does that happen?? But then
I thought, one of the most obvious places to hide, or not be noticed, is
totally out in the open, where no one would ever expect you to be. I looked
around. Hard to be more “out in the open” than this. Assuming anyone cared,
like the government, for instance, would they look for me here?? I had to smile,
for at that moment I felt even safer.
That picture of the raft doesn’t do it justice… at all. Along with what it appears
to be, it is a dream, a hope. It is you and me, in the deepest parts of ourselves.
It is the perfect observation post for the cycles of life. It is seclusion and
protection from the madness of the outside world. It is the re-affirmation that
all was in perfect harmony here before we arrived, and will be again after
The island, of course, is my home. The raft is my home, too. I’ll write about
life on each from time to time.