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  • I returned to island in April of the year I turned 21 after a season on the road. Leaving school and deadlines and schedules far behind I had wandered west and south on a rambling quest across America for experiences, peyote and visions. I had read Carlos Castenada and I figured there was a Don Juan out there somewhere waiting for me. As quests often do it led me round in an expanding spiral. I landed back on the island with plenty of experiences, not much of an appetite of peyote and still searching for visions.

    Alone, sometimes for weeks at a time. In a time before cell phones and the expectation of instant connection. Without even a CB radio. Connected to America by a 16 foot rowing dory and a pair of 9-foot oars. I shifted gears, slowed down. Solitude opened me. The lack of clutter, the human silence, let me be clear, crystal, an open channel to the world.

    Some days I felt it, someone is coming. Of course, there were logical indicators good weather, weekend but the feeling preceded logic. The feeling arrived first. A restless knowing someone was coming. And they did.

    Here, now, in the city I could never open myself so wide. Instead it is a matter of knowing what and when to shut down, to filter, otherwise the clamour would be overwhelming. To be so open would be reckless. But that year on the island I sought at once to let go and take control.

    The starting point as best as I could make it out from Don Juan’s teaching was to see your hands in a dream.

    One night, I dreamed I was walking on the high bank along the eastern side of the island just after sunset. Through the dark spires of the trees I saw the old granite steps leading down to the shore and the last muted glimmers of daylight off the open stretch of water between the island and the mainland.

    I heard as much as thought, “Look at your hands.”

    My hands came up in front of me and the dreamscape sharpened, brightened.

    I looked up, past my hands and saw the aftermath of a great calamity.

    That was the last time and only time I looked to see my hands. I turned to practical matters. Organic farming. Lobstering. A family. Then back to college. Degrees. Education.

    Step by step I walked away from that edge.

    Life flowed on.

    Last year, across 8,000 miles I felt the island calling me. I felt the tide shift and a new flow form. And now on this sunny August morning in Pretoria, drinking a latte and munching a carrot cupcake. I watch the people pass, some dressed for summer in shorts and flip-flops, some in coats and hats ready for another winter day, I feel someone, something, coming and know I must wend my way home.
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