Looking at the world from a boat or from behind a camera, the view is uniquely solipsistic. You are a soul unaccompanied, nearly abandoned as you try to decipher the visual signs of the world unfolding before you.
My favorite books growing up were stories of shipwreck, abandonment, and deserted islands. I suppose this might have something to do with living in a household with three sisters, making us four girls, always fighting and screaming over something. Nearly drowning, living on grubs and coconut water, and huddling under giant palm fronds to keep warm at night seemed so much more palatable.
It didn’t help that I was the scrawny one, always a little sickly, and an oddball on top of all that. My childhood gave me keen powers of observation, which I used round-the-clock to deflect the horrors, imagined and real, siblings will inflict at all hours of day or night.
Pippi Longstocking, Gulliver’s Travels, Robinson Crusoe, The Odyssey… These stories were road maps to a secret world beyond the reach of household chores, screeching sisters, and neighborhood bullies.
But, all clouds really do conceal a silver lining. I didn’t drown in a sea of childhood tears and, while my sisters did make me eat a bug once in a while, I mostly got to eat normal food and sleep in a real bed.
At the end of the day, my search for a desert island has led me to some pretty wonderful places and experiences, including a view of the world from the deck of a sailboat in the middle of the Balearics. I might have found these places on my own but we are who we are, in no small measure, on account of those around us.
By the way, I also liked Gilligan’s Island. If only we could have gotten rid of that know-it-all professor and his vapid actress girlfriend.