Have you ever thought to yourself, "What would happen if I was completely alone on a deserted island in the middle of the ocean? What would happen if I had everything I needed, food, water, shelter, you name it, but I was alone, with nothing around and no one coming?" Maybe you've thought about this, in fact I'd be willing to bet you think about it often. Most people do. We need an escape from our lives, and we fantasize about these wild scenarios in which we have no responsibility, no expectations, no pressure to do something we don't want to do, no pressure to do something we do want to do. Just for a moment, in the midst of a hectic day, we separate ourselves from our realities and jump into what living alone would be like. Truly alone. No possible way to contact another human, or be contacted, no pictures, no movies, nothing. Just alone by yourself with the ocean and the birds and the wind.
But then you wake up. Someone says your name, your thoughts wander, you look at something, it doesn't matter. Because it's impossible to ever fully immerse yourself in something like that. Only in dreams can we briefly yield to our creative potential, but even those end and eventually fade from memory. The only thing we can do is pretend, and pretending becomes tired so unbearably fast. Pretending offers nothing new and the real world is always throwing things your way.
So I did what everyone secretly wants to do. I left. not for a week, not for a month, not even for a year. No, for eight full years I lived alone. It's a luxury only a few can afford. I divided my assets, called my lawyers, spoke to my friends, wished my family farewell. It took eight months to prepare for this. I would need food, medical kits, water, everything. I needed resources, and resources I found. I took two flights southeast, ferried out to a dock, then bought a speedboat with enough gas for a one way trip to my new private island, fully stocked with the gifts thirty years of labor gives one.
Month one was amazing. I'd never felt so free. I could do whatever I wanted whenever I wanted. So what if I spent the whole day digging for clams? It was fun. Who cares if I didn't wake up until noon? Not me. I loved every moment of that beautiful month. Man doesn't realize how unapologeticlly beautiful the world around us is. The simplicity in the curvature of a sea shell, the perfect symmetry of a bamboo cane. It was there all this time, and I never bothered to look. Maybe I was too busy, but instead of reading small black print through the glow of my phone each morning, I should have walked out to my garden and seen. I did pay for it after all.
Month two was much the same as month one but with much more reading involved. It was important to me that I keep my mind sharp, and I knew I needed some form of entertainment. I hadn't completely lost my wits, you know. Month three blended in with month two, month four blended in with those, and so on. I stopped counting the days at month seven. What was the point? Who was I counting for? Me? Surely not.
Somewhere around year three I began to think about killing myself. I wasn't even close to having finished my books, I had plenty of food, the water was as fresh as ever, and I was healthy as could be. But I was lost and fuck it all I was alone. I was naive and stupid. I ignored thousands of years of natural human culture because things were boring out there, and things were fun in my head. I couldn't hack it so I ran away. Or perhaps I was smart, because I knew I'd want to come back, but in my frenzy I purposefully only filled the boat's tank partway. So I had a boat, but no gas, and miles upon miles of open ocean between me and even the smallest resort port. What a joke.
The way I saw it I had two options. Firstly, I could hope by some miracle a trade ship would come within proximity and I could light a bonfire and wave it down. Two, I could hang myself from one of these stupid trees. The former seemed like a much better option, so I sat. For weeks, for months, for years I woke up, read my books, stared at the horizon on my lonely little beach and I waited, and with each passing day option number two seemed like such a softer route. I wasn't a masochist, after all.
Maybe some of you have tried, but hanging yourself isn't as easy as it's made out to be. It wasn't for the lack of materials though as I'd brought plenty of rope, knives, you name it. There were countless ways I could've offed myself on that lonely little beach. The difficulty you see is in the execution of it. For people who want to die, it's a release, I imagine, but I didn't want to die. I thought about it sure, but I just couldn't do it. Every time I stood, ready to jump and wring my neck like a grocery store chicken, my body simply wouldn't let me. The invisible force of human instinct refused to let me fulfill my goal, and so for another how many months, I set everything up, gave myself a few halfhearted farewells, then stood waiting to jump until either my legs got tired or I had to piss. These were the golden times, they were.
However, a man can only take so much. I was nearing the eight year mark with absolutely nothing to show for it, and days were no shorter than the last. I wanted so badly in those days to simply hear the voice of another human. Just one word. A whisper. Anything. It's incredibly concerning when you begin to forget what sound other people even make, and even more so to forget your mother's face. These things began to happen to me, so I began to work on the greatest plan yet. I was going to leave this damn island, and if it was anything like my other genius ideas, I was going to fail spectacularly.
The good news was that I had a boat. The engine refused to turn on, that much I know, but that wasn't particularly necessary for the plan. I had tons of supplies I could make use of, maps of the surrounding area, rope, plenty of food, bottled water, easily enough to last me a week. The bad news was that the boat itself weighed close to three times what a standard sailboat would weigh. Speaking of, I had no sail. No oars either. Like any sanity deprived lunatic alone on an island for eight years would do, I stripped the living hell out of that dinky little thing. Engine? Don't need it. Glass pane? Don't need it. Radio antenna? Get that the hell off my boat. Out went everything I had absolutely no need for. It took me two whole weeks to strip the boat of its redundancies, but eventually I had taken off everything that would only slow me down. Actually, I was surprised at how well those things are built.
There wasn't a chance in hell I was going to make a sail. Firstly, I knew nothing about boats as is, and secondly, I didn't want to. Apparently even with all the time in the world laziness is still king. I was hardly surprised. If anything, this extended vacation had given me one concrete lesson. No matter where you live or why you live, the same plagues that haunt us in the real world rear their ugly heads, the only difference is I had no one to tell.
Oars were a much different case. I needed them of course otherwise I wouldn't make it much further than 20 feet out before the tide pushed me back in. Looking back, I could probably have used just about anything, but my mind was set on using metal paneling from the side of my house tied to broomsticks. They weighed a ton and were incredibly awkward to hold, but they did the job well enough.
Now you'd think after months of balking at necking myself, setting out to open sea with no way of knowing if I'd make it would give me pause. Apparently I am a masochist after all. With little forethought I spent about two days preparing and loading the boat, then set sail (there was no sail) towards where I assumed was the next island. I was hoping to follow the edge of a chain of small sandbars and island much like my own towards what I only hoped was still a private resort. The rest is history. No, truly. I sailed for about 2 days, stopping once on a small island to sleep, then found my way to a dock. It was that easy. In all that time brooding with myself, I had seriously miss-underestimated how long it initially took to get to the island via speedboat. Turns out it's only a two hour ride away.
Stumbling onto that dock with some of the wealthiest tourists in the world staring on in horror is the single most surreal moment of my entire life, and I imagine it'll stay that way till the day I die. Picture a man with a ratty unkempt beard wearing incredibly dirty garments that stuck to his sweaty body while he clutched a slab of sheet metal poorly roped to a soggy wooden stick. Now imagine this man is staggering around a dock, directly behind what appears to be a gutted speed boat, his eyes bulging out of his sun-bleached head staring at people like it was the first time he'd seen someone in eight years. I was promptly arrested.
My long and arduous tale had finally come to an end. Years upon years in voluntary solitude had left me with zero social skills or self-awareness whatsoever. Thankfully those kind island police had been informed eight years ago that if a man of my stature ever came bumbling back on to shore, that my previous assistant should be called at once. He was on the next flight as soon as they hung up the phone.
When he finally arrived to collect me, I thought I might cry. I'd had a few hours to readjust myself to the human face, but seeing a familiar one was all the merrier. God he was beautiful. Wrinkly, too.
"My god..." He seemed legitimately concerned. I could have kissed him.
"I know...I know...I just need to go home. My friends, my family...how are my parents?"
"Good, good. Sir, about your house though..."
"Yes? What, what is it?" I was so excited.
"You left the ovens on when you left, sir. It's burned down. It's...it's gone."