Like Robinson Crusoe on his island, I would have been startled to discover other human footprints in the sand. Fierce squalls at sea had driven me to seek refuge for my 17-foot sailboat Gandalf on the only spit of land I encountered on my long reach to the Dry Tortugas. I anchored off the lee side of the five-acre mangrove key just as an eight-foot shark broke the water and finned between my boat and the anchor lines.
“Too late!” I chided it.
The island proved uninhabited except for sea gulls, pelicans, and a few rats in the tangle of mangrove. Pristine sand beaches rimmed it. I paddled my rubber dingy ashore, alone in a vast ocean.
Many people can’t tolerate loneliness; loneliness and alone are two different things. I’m never lonely when I’m alone, since none of us is ever actually alone. During my time on earth, I’ve solo-kayaked Canada’s Inside Passage; solo-canoed Yukon Territory; roamed Alaskan tundra with only bears and caribou for neighbors; bicycled and backpacked the Rocky Mountains; sailed the seas; hiked into lost cities; floated the Amazon. . .
I basked in the sunshine on my island’s private beach. Boiled Raman noodles in an old army canteen cup on an open campfire. Chatted with the gulls. Discovered a sea turtle one afternoon. Caught a fish for dinner. Swam in the surf. Lay in my bedroll beneath the stars like the last surviving man in the world, gazing up into the magnificent dome of all creation.
No other human footprints. Only mine.
God has indeed been good to me.
“We who were Human, at least we who were still part Human, had waited a thousand years for our own kind to come again—but none ever did. . .”