January 8, 2018
Nearly 4 months on island. The length of time caretakers used to be allowed to stay up until 2012, when happily for us, the timeframe was extended to 6 months.
We are now at the full mercy of the island. My world officially upside down, right side up, changed forever. There will be no “returning” after this. Otherwise, I fear I am doomed to live looking backward, to the most incredible adventure of my life. A failure to move forward after this experience could result in a layer of crippling nostalgia I might never be able to scrape away. An insatiable longing for “that summer” once again.
As we find ourselves on the other side of a new year, my head and my heart must reconcile, there will never be another “Maatsuyker”. That is not to say there won’t be other adventures, perhaps bigger, maybe even better ones lying in wait - though I can’t imagine how - but our glorious existence here, finding our feet on this bountiful rock, well, we can only walk that path once.
It is clear that our GREATEST VICTORY on the island has been the overcoming of our greatest enemy here, TIME.
Time, it seems cannot be avoided, but shockingly enough, it can be overcome.
Time gnaws away at every extraordinary experience, every happy memory, every savored thought.
Time moves. On and on it moves. Like an unseen river that rushes and flows beneath us, carrying our meager bodies in its mighty current, too human to fight against its insurmountable burden. We are but weightless pieces in its grasp. The more we fight against it, the faster it carries us away.
How then to overcome this inventible foe? One that seeks to kill, cheat and destroy?
Embrace fully the true meaning of time, and then release it entirely from your conscious mind.
The temptation to focus on tomorrows, yesterdays, later ons and somedays is far too great. I can reveal in my past, my failure to live in the “Now”. Even now, as our number of remaining days begins to tick down, faster and faster, we’re confronted with the struggle once again.
It’s almost started to sound like a cliche bumper sticker, “Live for today”, “Live now”, “Live like today is your last”, yada yada. But I am convinced, now more than ever, that one’s ability to remain in the moment determines their capacity for happiness and content.
When we arrived on Maatsuyker, we truly excelled at this. Soaking up all the intricacies of each flavorful moment on the island - attentive to all sights, sounds and feelings. Each one of our glorious senses fresh and finely attuned.
We let go the meaning of time, and allowed our motions and musings to be dictated by something else, something greater and far more meaningful.
I strongly believe that a day, week or month lived in stride is one of the major behind-the-scenes grand allures of travel and adventure. Maybe that’s the escape we’re all searching for, released momentarily from the clutches of time, free to let ourselves be engulfed with NOW.
A meditation so to speak. A practice of letting go.
As someone who grasps too tightly the notion of control over one’s life, this doesn’t come easy for me. But its easier in a place like Maatsuyker Island.
Just like everyone else, I used to succumb to the “busyness” we’ve all become so gravely accustomed to. Caught up in expectations and comparisons, the need to “keep up”.
On the hunt for the career launching job out of my Master’s, out to prove to who? The world? That I, too, had a small success story brewing below the surface? After landing a solid internship, I hoped my days of not being taken seriously were nearly numbered. I might have stood corrected. But then, what came next, a game changer out of left field! The winds turned, the tides changed, and my path veered abruptly left of center - HERE.
Here, where our every day grind is local Tasmanian coffee, best enjoyed in between weather observations.
Eyes ever set on the sea and sky - searching only for rare cloud types, a wandering whale, and more of ourselves.
Here, where the 9 to 5 comes to die. The clock’s existence no more and no less than a simple, rhythmic, tick tock in our kitchen.
Here, where our greatest battle is against 2 small, cunning, green birds that insist on making a home out of our attic!
Here, where we work with our hands and Earth’s elements, in the mud, in the dirt, against the wind, and the sea and the wet.
This place where concern about success is solely wrapped up in veggie garden production.
And LOVE is FREE to GROW and EVOLVE.
This island is a miracle. A snow globe you hold upside down and watch longingly and affectionately, as its mysterious iridescence trickles and drifts before your eyes.
A taste of a life lived long ago - one foot in this decade, one foot in another.
A simple life. Where “connection” means with the land itself.
We are changed now. We may have had these “selves” in us all along, but here, they have been exposed. Peeled back. They stand naked now before our eyes. Impossible to ignore. The new life we crave and strive for.
The life of the caretaker. The Keeper. The watcher. The one happy to exist in an existence they do not rule.
A wild existence, where they are but observers of something more raw and real than themselves.
A reality lost on tramways, and pavement, remote controls, and siri.
Maatsuyker Island is our greatest lesson. The question now is, what will we do with it?