I was reading a Scooby Doo book to my five-year-old son. In the story, the gang were in a surfing contest. Scooby and Shaggy were swept away on their turn surfing and landed on a deserted island. They chose to send a message in a bottle into the ocean. The message said, “Save Us.”
As a kid, I was all in for this idea. Really, what else would you do if you were stranded on an island?
Now, as an adult, the message-in-a-bottle solution bothered me. It represented one of those useless things that served no real purpose. Which was redundant! See how worked up this makes me?
Imagine for a moment your bottle drifted randomly through the ocean. Even say it didn’t break or sink, and it happened upon someone who was willing and able to rescue you. Sure, okay, then what?
If this was a kid’s movie then a helpful pod of dolphins would lead the way or the first island the rescuer searched would be right. If this were a romance, the rescuer would be your perfect someone.
In real life, the ocean is big. Like crazy big.
So, your bottle happened to find someone willing to rescue you, but they’d have no idea about your location as there’s no way to address a bottle tossed into the sea. I guess, if you had mad cartography and astronomy skills you might be able to give them the location. A sci-fi answer would be if the bottle had an alien homing beacon which drew the rescuer back to the island. Or for a fantasy, a magic spell embedded in the bottle would whisk the rescuer straight to you.
So, the rescuer made it to your island… What if you’d already been rescued? Or were long dead and only your skull and the strange scrawled writing you somehow left on the rocky outcrops showed you were ever there? (hmm, getting a horror feel to that one)
What wouldit be like to be truly lost? I think it would be humbling for a modern-tech addicted person to have all technology taken away. No cell phone to tell you the day or time. No fitbit to count your steps. No lights at night.
You would also be away from society’s influence. No one to tell you right from wrong. To have the lowest of Maslow’s level – food, water, shelter – be suddenly uncertain. You’d have to survive based upon the skills you brought to the island.
Maybe that’s why many stories of self-discovery were set on islands. Woman against nature.
I realized that if I ever am truly lost on a tropical island, then maybe having a rescuer-seeking bottle or a pod of helpful dolphins would be good options. Even better, if my island was not really an island, but was just a beach hidden behind some rocks. I’d have my own space to be alone, but my friends would be just over the dune.
What type of island experience would you like?