Alexander Selkirk might have a few words of advice on finding a sense of direction. We know that the sun rises in the east, and that moss grows on the north side of trees and rocks. Tides come and go. Wilderness camp taught us which way the wind blows.
In honor of National Marooned Without a Compass Day (November 6), we ponder the classic question: What would you do if you were stranded on a desert island ?
Would you stay and build an empire, or would you try to get back home at all costs ?
Certainly, a good book would be comforting (Robinson Crusoe is a personal favorite). Perhaps some music to listen to beneath the stars: Sinatra swooning from the gramophone, the waves crashing near your hut. Being deserted isn’t so disastrous after all. As light filters in from the slats in the roof of your straw abode, count the tallies next to your pine needle pillow. Just 49 days ago, you took everything for granted.
Do you dream of distant lands with “wild caught” shrimp dinners and tropical drinks with woody notes? Or do you savor the rare solitude, because your company, your family, and your crew can’t survive without your solid leadership? You are a rock, you are an island.
Beyond the obvious hardships of being stranded, there is a curious joy in discovering the unknown. We are reduced to our hunter-gatherer instincts, foraging for food like our bodies were built to do. We remember minute details of our former lives, like the initials carved into the doorframe on move-out day, or the smell of mom’s oatmeal chocolate chip cookies. These are the things we miss, but they’re also the things we learn to live without. For what is life but an extended memory test?