“No man is an island, entire of itself,” John Donne wrote four centuries ago.
That’s a nice sentiment and no doubt true in the broadest sense, but it has a lot of cultural forces pushing hard against it these days.
There’s a guy in Scotland who claims one of the Shetland Islands is not part of Scotland or, for that matter, Britain. His island is independent, he says. He calls it the sovereign state of Forvik.
He was probably fine – harmless cranks are everywhere – until he started driving around with Forvik license plates that he designed himself. I appreciate that kind of commitment to one’s vision, but really that is probably one level of crazy too far.
Some of this gets caught up in the Brits voting to leave the European Union, so the Scots want to leave the United Kingdom, so the Shetland Islands folks think maybe they want to leave Scotland and cozy up with Norway, and Forvik Man wants to leave the whole mess. Of course, King so and so had this land and gave to thus and such back six centuries ago, and then …
What a tedious mess. It feels like a social studies quiz.
But let’s leave all that aside.
Think of it. Your own island. Nothing but seals, seabirds and salt air. And I love the northern latitudes. Lots of wind and rain off the ocean. A fair share of gray days. Winters are long and cold. Summers are short and cold.
All of this might repel rather than attract most people, but in that lies opportunity – an opportunity to find solitude and to find the rarest of commodities, a quiet hour or even a quiet day. I begin to see Forvik Man’s point of view.
It’s all good until you want a fresh pizza. Or a doctor. You’d best pack lots of supplies and hope for good luck.
Maybe I’m looking at it wrong. I need to broaden my horizons. There’s a dwarf star, only 40 light years away, called LHS 1140. In close orbit is a planet, bigger than Earth, getting just the right amount of heat and light to support life. One of the scientists who discovered it called it the most exciting exoplanet to come along in years.
Well that’s that. Let Forvik Man man keep his cold, lonely rock, though I’ll happily sign his petition for independence before I leave. I’m packing my books and pizza oven, and I’m starting a GoFundMe account for my imminent departure for distant – really distant – shores just off LHS 1140. I promise to write once I get there.
Reach Jeff Fox at firstname.lastname@example.org or 816-350-6313. Follow him on Twitter: @FoxEJC