Saturday 6 November 2010

Bond to place: Haida Gwaii

November 6, 2010

(This is something I wrote 2 months ago.  At the time I wrote this, I was feeling very much out-of-place.  Feeling I didn't belong anywhere.  Wasn't needed anywhere.  And looking back to a place and time when I did feel a bond.  A bond which draws me still.)

In his book, So Beautiful, Leonard Sweet writes:

"Offcomer" is a northern word to describe people who are "blown in on the wind," or in other words, "outsiders" settling in places where they are not "local."  The key to incarnational living in the twenty-first century is to live simultaneously as both global "offcomers" and tribal "locals," as well as vice versa.

My reaction:

Odd.  I think I had a deep connection to the "place" of Masset and Old Massett, Haida Gwaii,  from when I was very small, and every single day, pretty near, we went on long walks.  I think the environment there became a deep part of me.

When I first returned over 20 years later, and sat on the dock, and looked out over the flats, my eyes were at the same level as when I was a tot walking there. And I had this extremely detailed and real, in-the-moment flash of that same view (though there had been some changes in the intervening years) as I had seen it as a less-than-two-year-old. 

It's still the environment I miss, the ocean, beaches, salty-wind, gulls crying, ravens squawking... and meeting people walking down the street... and even that school where I slept in my buggy in the back of the classroom while my mom taught - and then taught there myself in that same room nearly a quarter of a century later. 

I feel like I should feel safe and accepted there... yet never totally did in the later years. I was an "outsider" yet with a "local bond."  So even there I felt a bit lost and separate.  And I did try to live as "both global offcomers and tribal locals" but it didn't quite come together.  Should it have?  Maguy, the school French teacher, from Paris, warned me it wouldn't... couldn't ... And she advised me to enjoy what I could, be involved as I could, but not to try to be something I'm not.

Still, I long always to return.  My connection to that place is far deeper than to any other place I have ever lived.  I want to go home.

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