Thursday, August 19, 2010
For me there has always been some kind of mystique to an island. Growing up I heard about the Thousand Islands, and my sister read to me a story of some kids who ran away from their parents and escaped to an island. The fact that she decided to stop reading the story part-way only fascinated me more. Then there is Huckleberry Finn and Jim on a raft going down the Mississippi river, a story my mother read to me in childhood, a tale full of their hideouts on remote tiny little rocks. As an adolescent I loved the novel by Lucy Maud Montegomery called "The Blue Castle" wherein Valcancy Stirling, once a staid and timid old maid, defies her family and marries in a backwoods ceremony a disreputable rakish man, and they live together on his island in the Muskokas. It turns out that he is her favourite author who writes about the beauty of the woods and he is also the son of a self-made millionaire who peddled patent medicine.
I love the northern wilderness, and in high school I decided that someday I wanted to be an author who owned her own island and went there in summers to write and reflect. I wanted to go there with my ruggedly handsome husband by motor boat, and bring along our progeny in the form of towheaded little rascals and beautiful little russet-haired princesses. This island didn't have to be very big, just large enough for a rustic cottage and some outlying buildings.
I wasn't sure how I could ever afford this island, and my plan wasn't just to marry someone rich. So I dreamed that I would become an award-winning journalist who traveled the world as a young ambitious woman.
This dream was just a castle in the air; more of a daydream than something I ever expected to actually happen. And life took me in different directions and now I am a student studying practical nursing, and I am not rich enough to even buy my own house on a tiny little lot. But that's okay, because riches are not necessarily owning your own island or Fortune 500 company. Riches are a family who loves you, friends who support you, blessings that fill your life even in the midst of disappointment and pain. Joy and peace, love and hope: these are all riches that money cannot buy and they are free gifts to any who would reach for them, who would seek and find, and open the door to the One who knocks.
The image is of my family at Doe Lake, on the dock in front of our rented cottage. Photo credit M. den Boer.