Have we established this yet? There is no such thing as a simple as happily ever after. The most amazing romance (which I can genuinely say T and I have had) always becomes a marriage that naturally, in the course of things, requires work. The move to an exotic (cough... Scottish) island means that one has to live with the people there... and their issues. And even the loveliest child a parent could ask for has wobbles, which sometimes makes said parent glance in on their situation and say to themselves: this looks and feels absolutely bonkers. And all of this requires an enormous growth in character, a funny new unforeseen cynicism and sense of humour. And self-reliance.
I guess we were after all this. Theoretically. Time once again to stomp up and take responsibility for the reality of these things we asked for.
So, I ended my first blog, which I intend to make a book out of this year, by hook or by self-publishing crook. But it seems there is more to say. I have other intellectual, personal and writing projects on, but it seems there is more to be said about life on an island. Like everything in life, I am not entirely sure where this will end up. This is not the muse’s business, nor the motivation of the creative process. Or so I am learning. I am finding that the old adage ‘write for an audience’ is completely counter-intuitive for me personally. Counter-creativity. And it turns out great writers out there seem to also agree. JRR Tolkien apparently wrote advice to a sixteen-year-old girl: “Don’t write at first for anyone but yourself.”(Brain Pickings) In her creativity podcast Elizabeth Gilbert discusses with Rob Bell how following your creative flow is like riding on a freeway, but considering the audience too much, particularly a what-would-they-say critical audience is like getting off in a “bad neighbourhood”.
Right now, I am watching the five to twenty five birds vie for the seed and water I put out on our improvised bird table. (A metal table that came with the house, which I hope to be able to clean the bird shit off next spring, with a metallic bird food holder and an old iron skillet that catch rain water.)
It’s funny because I love feeding the birds. One of my weekly staples is bird food and I buy it in bulk. But when you watch the birds closely, it makes one doubt even the benevolent side of nature. The rock doves are big bullies, to each other, to the other birds. They’ve now scared off all the house sparrows and the robbins only creep in when no one else is around. The big, clowny sea gulls I scare off since they can eat anything and no one has ever heard of a sea gull starving in the winter. And then you glance up again and the house sparrows have flown back en masse and are holding their own with the doves which seem suddenly much more tolerant. Can’t we all just get along? I can hear Rodney King’s plea on the 80s television in my head, broadcasting the Detroit news.
I am home because I am sick. It doesn’t look like anyone’s else’s sickness. I choose to go when I feel a lurgy coming on. I rest the hell out of it, hydrate the hell out of it, gentle yoga and stay in bed and read the hell out of it. I might watch a gentle chick flick from the oughties the hell out of it later today. There are many people around me who stay sick, come to work incessantly and generally just infect the rest of us. We all preach rest, but I thought once upon a time that I would try practicing what I preach. And to be honest, I don’t feel the mess I seem to observe around me be pretty regularly. I think the Scottish have a righteousness in relation to work issue more than the Puritanical Americans (who were a lot of them Scottish) have. What have I moved into? The irony? I work for the National Health Service.
Could I work today? Yes, my job is such that you could prop me up at my desk, click, click, click just like I am doing now. I’m not dead, for goodness sake. But the long term effects of working, not resting, going out in this bone-shaking cold and spreading my germs and partaking in others’ infections... Well, there has got to be some take in the give. I’ve never regretted taking a day off. I don’t ‘take the mick’, but I also will not kill myself for any job.
So, here I am, day three, fully on the island. And I can see how just being here all the time could send someone a bit loopty. I have been advocating for T to get off the island more often, volunteer, find other work ‘out there’. Whatever. I think when your whole world is a small island with its sixty-something inhabitants and all their lovely issues, it could be a bit tough. We have heard the same from new, wise friends who have come and gone from here several times.
And in the second, arguably tougher, definitely colder and more depressing half of winter, one must make an effort to look after themselves. Not just sorta or in a half-assed fashion. Practice what we preach. Not take it out on those around themselves, like some are apt to do.
Resist going back to work despite the fact I woke up with guilt and an acidy belly which I am sure is directly related. I will remind myself like a mantra today: “It is ok to take a few days off when necessary to look after yourself. This is part of the deal.”
And maybe, today, perhaps I will venture out. I am on the mend and the sun is threatening bright light from behind the clouds from above the islands nearby.
T just informed me he is going mad. “It’s official,” he says. Glad we’ve all cottoned on. We’ll just be here holding the tension between going mad and being gloriously mad. Opposite things can be true and the juju of a situation can change, vitally and imperceptibly.
Last night, we spoke to a dear, old friend (T has known her since her was about five; she is family) for about an hour-and-a-half, work-shopped some of the interpersonal stumbling blocks which have jumped up unexpectedly in our path. We made plans to see her soon. These are some handy tips on ways to live, to survive and thrive on an island.
Get off the island. Come back and appreciate it.
About The Author
Britt Doughty-Godchaux is a writer, parent, partner, traveller, yogi, health nut, award-winning hugger, consummate explorer and dilettante who lives and works from a tiny island off the west coast of Scotland. Originally from Savannah, she has resisted becoming a writer since she became literate, because it is not an easy thing to be, but she cannot stop writing as it turns out, so here are. Reach her at email@example.com
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