Welcome to Life on Orcas, our twenty-part series on living and thriving on Orcas Island.
Section Nineteen: The End Times
Orcas Island is indeed a paradise on earth. But all good things must end, including paradise on earth.
The wheel of life must turn, from life unto death. Life, unto death. And in this turning, sometimes, there is a great Revealing, or in the Greek: “Apocalypse.”
Whether by earthquake, or war, or pestilence, the End Times has come.
There is a myth that many human beings subscribe to, of Separateness. In this myth, each human being ends at the tips of their toes and the tops of their heads. All else is separate, or other, or “not me.”
Likewise, there is a myth on Orcas Island, that our home is separate from the Mainland, or “America.”
This is not so, and the End Times reveals it for everyone.
Imagine a virus originating in the country of China, that spreads through our connectedness of trade and travel, to the Mainland. And then, to a human in Seattle, who then comes to Orcas Island on vacation. And so China, and Orcas Island, are one.
The islander might say, but we can shut down the ferries and the burn the docks, and so be truly separate. And it is true that we can grow some food in our fields, and forage some medicine in our forests. And we can cut our trees to warm our homes, and the sun can energize our solar panels.
But the islander cannot service their diesel generator without parts from the Mainland. And they cannot forage insulin in the forests (indeed, insulin comes from China). And should their appendix become inflamed, they call a phone number, and a helicopter comes to pick them up and take them to a Level 1 Trauma Center, in a place called Seattle. The same place where viruses come from.
And so, in the Apocalypse, our connectedness is revealed: That when there is suffering and injustice and pestilence in China, we feel it as well. That when one of us is sick, all of us are sick. And that we will never truly know human thriving until all of us thrive.
Separateness is a myth, an illusion, even more so on a beautiful island like Orcas.
And so the wheel turns towards death, and Orcas Islanders gnash their teeth and cry out, in solidarity with all humanity. We wish to live, we wish to be free of suffering. It is human to wish these things.
But to live is to know suffering. A life without suffering would lack all drama and romance and purpose. For what would life mean, what would love mean, without some cost? That cost is suffering.
So let us suffer with one another in the End Times. ‘Suffering with’: in the original Latin, compati. In modern English, compassion.
Let us revel, let us love, in the face of Death. On Orcas Island, and everywhere.