I am without question an islander, with all the attendant faults and foibles that distinction owns. My home is very much my castle, I am renowned for lowering the portcullis, raising the drawbridge and simmering quite happily within the keep. Equally I consider myself a man of the world, well-travelled, of liberal persuasion, open to other cultures and influences if interested of entertained.
These two states might at first sight seem well separated, but in the well-disciplined mansion they abide quite conveniently in adjoining rooms, perhaps not with the intimacy of man and wife but certainly in the somewhat fractious relationship betwixt brother and sister.
My home island, whilst not unique is probably quite unusual geographically, containing within its shores a minimum of four separate social and historical realms, themselves each a conglomerate of ever decreasing groups of tribes, clans, townships, villages, families, and agricultural enclaves. In such a culturally diverse environment it is ungently necessary to have the capacity to easily withdraw into privacy or suffer the dilution of individual desires, aspirations and considerations.
The concept of social distancing is not new to any native islander. The ability to keep fellow inhabitants at arm’s length is a fundamental defense against societal merging, intellectual and productive cloning. The ability to walk in a crowd but still travel in your own direction is a skill learned through experience and common purpose. Simple observation of nature will provide myriad examples to validate this supposition.
I have found to my great relief that one island is very much like any other, whilst size, population and density may vary the basics principles of successful and beneficial interaction do not.
Openness is very much a subject of perspective, what may seem open to an islander is quite often effete or even cold and unfriendly to the more cosmopolitan mainlander. This incongruity is most noticeable in matters of purpose, when on a mission islanders tend to be single minded, unlikely to deviate from their chosen path, the fisherman hauling in the loaded nets if you were. Other islanders accept of this ‘apparent rudeness’ simply as prioritization, whilst mainlanders, particularly occasional visitors, tend to overlook the obvious truth that life is not a permanent twenty-four-hour social event.
Islanders in general tend to be observant, noticing happenstances easily but not feeling the need to always comment of react. Yes the islander has time to ‘smell the roses’, but that process is a culmination of months if not years of arduous work, planting, pruning, watering, and fertilizing, watching and assisting at each phase of that scents wonderous production. Island time has an entirely different concept, odor, feel to cosmopolitan time.
In my short lifetime I have witnessed many an attempt to propel the islander from isolationist stance to continental consideration, all have momentarily succeeded only to slip once more into the great thee and me divide. Much as federalization grates upon the state, county, district mindset, so continentalism mars the islander’s sense of inalienable righteousness. A breed apart, separated by violent act of nature, the islander beats their own path and drum individually and in concert with fellow castaways. Willingly marooned, happily localized, having no particularly vital perspective beyond the shores that eternally protect and segregate. Yes, islanders will participate vocally, oft loudly and belligerently, but ever the vision is turned inward. Change yourself distant majority, but only towards my reflection, for am I not the ideal you ever did seek across land, ocean and sea?