My grandparents live in, what I believe to be, one of the most desirable places that you could possibly spend your time. Balboa Island, California. The island is filled with big fancy houses and surrounded by big fancy boats. By definition, the place is pretty much LUXURY. However, a few weeks ago I spent some time relaxing in “paradise” but I could not stop myself from dwelling on this concept of island.
Not all islands are places of paradise despite what reality TV has tried to tell me. In reality, all islands have one thing in common and it’s not palm trees. All islands stand alone but at the same time they are surrounded. Islands stand alone because they are disconnected. Islands are surrounded because on all of their sides there is something that is not made of the same friendly material as they are. This makes islands extremely vulnerable to attack and to destruction.
Incase I’m not being clear, I’m not talking about actual islands. I’m talking about us, people.
Like an island I know that I would often prefer to stand alone and keep to myself just because it seems easier. It seems easier because when we stand alone and are disconnected we don’t have to worry about shaking when the rest of the land around us shakes. When we are disconnected from the rest of the land we don’t have to worry about other mountains falling down and burying us. As an island all we have to worry about is us.
But here’s the problem: we are surrounded. We are surrounded by oceans of trouble and worry that are completely unpredictable and uncontrollable. Therefore, when tidal waves of trouble strike we often don’t see them coming. But say that we do see them coming, we are still defenseless. We are not connected to another piece of land that can pull us out from underneath the pressure of the water as we continue to be submerged. As an island we are alone. As an island we are weak. As an island we stand on only what we are.
So why can’t we stand on just what we are? Why do we need anything but ourselves to lean on? And what guarantee do we have that the rest of the land around us will actually provide us with something to lean on?
I think that if we are honest with ourselves, we can recognize that even the biggest of fences won’t keep out the anxieties of life. So we can’t stand alone because we ARE vulnerable and when storms come we will be easily destroyed if we do not have somewhere to lean apart from ourselves.
So as much as it may suck, healthy people cannot be islands. If we want to go throughout life in a way that points to joy we will have to connect ourselves to the greater body of land.
So what does a greater body of land look like to you? Is it your family? Close friends? Coworkers? Leave a comment below and let me know in what ways you struggle as an island and in what ways you see yourself needing to be connected.
Thanks for reading.
These three images are a series of 250 photos that I took from the seawall around Balboa Island. I walked around the island counter-clockwise so they read from right to left.