Get Lost to Find Yourself
Many years ago, on an island far, far away, I spent a very Dionysian year in London. At the end of it, I felt so far away from myself, that I had the urge to swing out in the extreme opposite direction: I wanted to live as remotely as possible, out of the city, and study with a shaman in the forest. I felt like I’d packed on layers that weren’t me. And I knew I needed to shed them.
So I did. For ten years.
For three of those years I lived in and around Tofino – for a while my residence was a floathouse that was moored an hour from Tofino by boat. I was living with a seafaring pirate who was more in tune with the ocean and the tides than any time piece (which often meant simple things like, “Which day will you be back?” were anybody’s guess).
One of the things I’m most grateful for during this era of my life, was feeling the freedom of: 1) owning very little and not caring about owning very little; and 2) letting my true self come out. Most of the inhabitants of Tofino and other such remote enclaves seemed to be on a similar journey. They were stripping off the pieces of civilization that formerly bound them and were finding out who they were beneath that.
I was reminded of this over the weekend when I went to Lasqueti Island for the wedding of two such souls I met in the bush over a decade ago. Lasqueti Island is off the grid: no electricity, no car ferry – just passengers – and a population of very hardy, eclectic people. This is important when you need to figure out how to heat your home and generate power where it doesn’t just appear with the flick of a switch. Hence, Lasqueti is a hotbed for alternative energy. In every sense of the term.
The wedding was beautiful: tender and so…them. The pair got married on a cliff overlooking the ocean, with their children climbing all over them, and the bride kicking off her flip-flops and walking barefoot down the hill after their oh-so-original ceremony.
In a place like this, there a few distractions to the things we might want to suppress. For me, with the lack of a computer, cell phone and my other pursuits, I had something come to the surface that I’d pushed down for years. Being there gave me the space to let it rise, to grieve it and then figure out what I am going to do about it.
The thing about stripping things away, is that it can feel disorienting, and anxiety-producing sometimes. In the words of Robert Frost: “The only way out is through.” Being vulnerable and open is the strongest place to reside. Stick with it and you will be reborn.