A Walk on the Edge 2019 · Catherine Gallant
I Walk on the Edge while Random Thoughts fleet through my Head
I walk along the boardwalk, the snow beneath my feet crunches with every step and each breath condensates as I exhale, forming a tiny puff of frozen air. The frigid winter air bites at the only skin that remains exposed to the elements, my face. I pull my hood tighter and focus my eyes on the ground in attempt to shield my face from the wind, several thoughts occur in my mind simultaneously, rising to the surface from somewhere deep below.
The first thought that I bring into focus is a question. What in the world am I doing walking the boardwalk on such a frigid and unhospitable day? I quickly resign myself to my fate, this needs to be done, this is where the answers may come to you. I continue to walk and reflect on the questions with which I have been struggling, probing my mind for answers that are hidden in the depths. There are many questions, but lately I grapple with one more than any of the others, just what is an island?
Not being born and raised on an island, I struggle with this concept, a concept that has been raised time and time again in my Island Studies class. As thoughts rapidly fleet in and out of my consciousness, I grasp and focus on a new one. I am walking on the edge, just as Dr. Brinklow has asked our class to do, but to what end, another thought fleets by, quickly I snatch at it, and bring it into focus, what edge, just what edge are you walking on? Again, ideas flash through my mind rapidly, fleeting hither and tither, I struggle to organize my thoughts, my pace slows as I begin to untangle and rearrange these fleeting notions and suddenly, I get the sensation of being very small and insignificant, look out there, across the frozen water, what do you see?
I think, my eyes now focus on the landscape, look beyond the lighthouse, what do you see? I see nothing but frozen water, as far as the eye can see, so what does that mean? Well you are on the edge, but the edge of what? Now the thoughts flow at a slower pace and I connect them and expand on each in rapid succession. I am at the water’s edge, but what water’s edge? The Atlantic Ocean, you are standing in Summerside, gazing out at the Atlantic Ocean. I feel as I have just arrived at some great epiphany and I question further, quickly grasping at answers
PEI is surrounded by the Atlantic, that’s why it is deemed an island, yes, but North American is surrounded by water, the Atlantic lies to the east, the Pacific on the west, the Arctic Ocean lies to the north and the Caribbean is due south. Is our continent nothing more than a massive island? An island at which I am currently standing on the edge, in this small city on this small island.
My mind flicks to a new idea and a new image forms, is the earth made up of nothing but islands, pieces of land surrounded by water, but wait is the earth itself not an island in a sense, floating in space, surrounded by other planets and stars, suspended in space, my thoughts shift again.
I expand this idea, the solar system, is the solar system nothing more than just one of many. Are we nothing more than a mere dot in the grand scheme of things, living on islands upon islands upon islands? What a provocative thought!
I realize that I have stopped moving, I am standing staring blankly at the ocean beyond, not fully conscious of what I am doing, suddenly I realize just how cold I am, unaware of just how long I have been standing here, frozen in thought. I turn around and start heading back to where I parked the car earlier. My mind is like shifting sand, constantly moving, expanding and contracting. This walk had not answered the question I had hoped to come to grips with, but only added to my struggle, just what is an island?