Wednesday, September 9, 2015

at the edge

I want to stand as close to the edge as I can without going over.
Out on the edge you see all the kinds of things you can't see from the centre.
- Kurt Vonnegut

Treading through the yellow-green meadows out to the huge, jutting rocks in southern Nova Scotia reminded me of the northernmost point of Newfoundland: L'Anse aux Meadows. There is nothing there except for a few houses and the site of a viking settlement that has long since crumbled away to nothing. L'Anse aux Meadows is one of those places that has, in the words of Mr. Darcy, bewitched me body and soul. These two places - southern Nova Scotia and northing Newfoundland - are 15,000km apart and yet they have that same edge-of-the-world spirit.

After returning from Newfoundland the last time, I remember telling a friend about it's barrenness and isolation. About the harsh ruggedness of the land. He immediately interpreted this as a negative thing, something to be fixed, which sort of floored me, because that wasn't how I felt at all. For him, things needed to be connected and plugged-in (not in the internet/technology sense, more in a social sense). For him, community and human connection was the most important thing, the thing that we all need to strive for, always.

And while I agree that community and human connection is important, even most important, I think there's also something important about isolation and barrenness. Connection can be detrimental, just like the sun can be detrimental. You need the darkness to descend. You need the night to replace the daylight. You need the stars to come out so that you can sit in the deep dark, alone, with just the howl of the wind and the song of the sea for company. That's important too, I think.

So, I'm officially declaring it: I prefer the edges of things. The furthest, loneliest, most barren landscapes are the ones that make my heart race and my breath come quick.

Maybe it's just the introvert in me.

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