On the Island

Coming Home to Star by Sarah Phipps Gordon

If Einstein had ever visited Star Island, the theory of general relativity may not exist.  


Hear me out. 


I am about to sacrilegiously over-simplify this: according to relativity, time passes more slowly closer to the center of the earth than it does at higher altitudes. Therefore, given the ridiculous rate at which time passes during an average week on Star Island passes, we, as Shoalers, defy the theory of general relativity.  


Well above sea-level, two years have passed with neither stepping foot on the sun-baked pier, nor hearing the music of the creaky porch slats. That elevated time away indisputibly falls into the category of, “time goes on crutches” (Shakespeare, Much Ado About Nothing).   


When I arrived for Arts in June, after that brutal respite, I expected a “kiss the ground” moment at the pier – or at least some ugly crying. Instead, I breathed. That’s all. You know that feeling, of coming home to Star: grounding, fully feeling the air inside and outside of you align, seeing the sky join the ocean, and, despite all life’s chaos (raging understatement), believing that everything makes sense again. Ultimate muscle memory.


Our time away was a period of such grief, stress, loss, and loneliness for us. How slowly has that time passed for you? Asking for myself. 


We can finally come back to poke our souls awake.  


2021 Island living proved magical as ever, from the first meeting: listening to “Fire and Water” from Adirondack chairs on the front lawn. The historical and logistical significance of a water lecture being shared from the front of the Well House was certainly not lost on this audience.  

It also set the tone for a week of creativity and improvisation regarding how we at Arts hurrahed through our conference. Traditions organically transformed. Zumba on the tennis court? Sure! Chapel in Brookfield, streaming in from New Jersey? Beautiful and transcendent (literally). Oatmeal or compost cookies – I’m wondering now about leftover compost cookies being used as the next day’s oatmeal (Mystery Oatmeal? Maybe not) – tasted better when eaten at a picnic table. Old and new Shoaler friends popped in and out of informal seating as they tried to catch the best harbor view during a meal and have as many conversations and catch-ups as one can squeeze into an hour. 


Speaking of which, did you know that the sun can keep the cheese in your grilled cheese sandwich quite evenly and perfectly melted?    


The front porch housed an audience for more than the setting sun.  


Back to more physics. I will never believe that time does not fly by at an unimaginable pace while at sea level, sharing lime rickeys. Watching a lantern candle flicker. Listening to sea gulls caw, and dodging their protective attacks. Climbing rocks. Falling into a trance at the low toll of the chapel bell. Getting feasted upon by mosquitoes. Breathing.  


Our time among the waves passes with such haste, that I’ll be attending a September conference, too. I also want to be as prepared as I can be to argue with Einstein himself.