On an Island

There are people that live on tiny islands in southeast Alaska, and some even live on houseboats parked in the ocean water.  They occupy all of the space around them and their only regular companions are the eagles and deer and bear.  Boats of all types pass by – fishing boats mostly, and the occasional ferry or seasonal cruise ship.  But few people other than perhaps a curious neighbor or a visiting relative ever step onto their island or their houseboat for months, sometimes years on end.

It’s not unusual to come upon such a place that has been deserted and has a For Sale sign nailed to a tree near the shore of the island.  I always imagined that the owner had pretty much absorbed all there was to get from the place, and decided to return to the mainland.  Not that they had depleted the solitude or the beauty or the soul of the place.  That remained of course.  Plenty there for the next person that needed some.

I made a pilgrimage to Walden Pond some years ago, where I knew that Henry Thoreau had lived in a cabin in the nearby woods for two years, two months, and two days.  I could feel the plentiful soul that remained of that place too.  I picked a small rock out of the pond and took it home for my sitting Buddha statue to look after.  It gazes at it incessantly, and in the process I think the spirit of Walden permeates the front room of the house.

The house on the island in the woods that I live in is not surrounded by water, but it feels like an island nonetheless.  The place is steeped with a powerful spirit of solitude, and of restful beauty, and soulful union of trees and birds and an occasional deer or bear.  I imagine that some day I will have pretty much absorbed all there is to get from the place, and then it will be time to move on to another.  There will always be plenty left for the next person that needs some, of course.

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