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Friday, October 23, 2015

Expats and Islanders: Adrift From the Mainland

Expats and islanders, perhaps somewhat surprisingly, have a great deal in common. Both are creatures of intention. One rarely becomes an islander, or an expat, by accident. 

The mainland. It's always there, off on the horizon. Separating itself from both the expat and the islander by space, time and distance. There's an expanse of water, often a strong current, and perhaps a gale. Sometimes, the whole of it is awash in fog.

Expats and islanders can gauge their reality by the mainland's watch: its politics; expectations; its often failing ideals.

Both live on islands of their own making. It's a foreground/background kind of thing. Expats and islanders. Each adrift from the mainland. Sometimes connected by a withered tether. Sometimes, not at all.

Islanders are a strange lot. Romantics. Artists. Iconoclasts. Naysayers. Hardier for sure, than their mainland brethren.

Expats too, strangers in a strange land, chiseled by the callused hands of culture. Adrift from the mainland. Each changing, often in different directions.

Expats and islanders. What is it that they seek? What have they found? Off in the distance.

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Steve Schuit is both an islander and an expat. He's lived on Peaks Island, Maine (975 acres, 3 miles out to sea) since 1985. Recently, he's been experiencing life as an expat teaching in South Korea.