When I was 10-years-old, the movie Swiss Family Robinson was released. I have been coveting those treehouses for the half a century since that time. For my morning writing exercise, I’ll endeavor to make a list of items that I’ll need for the day that I’ll also find myself stranded on a deserted island.
- I’ll need the ship that stranded me and all its goods. That is a biggie.
The ship would have a hammer, nails, a saw, knives, scissors, and other tools. It would have water and food–at least enough to sustain me until I can find other sources, and it would have pots and pans for cooking and storing food and for carrying water from the fresh stream of water that I’ll also wish for my camp.
My ship will also have lumber and rope and needles and thread. I’ll need all of that, and like the Swiss Family, I’ll use the ship’s staircase and banister to help me ascend to my treehouse and afterward, to descend again.
Hopefully, I’ll be able to save a great deal of the ship itself. That will save me a great deal of building time.
My ship’s sails will serve as tarps for my camp. I’ll hang one tarp over the top of my treehouse–beneath the thatch roof that I’ll weave above that–and I’ll hang the others on the sides. I’ll roll my sails away on all but the rainiest of days, but during the monsoon season, the tarps will serve to protect me from most of the natural elements. The ship’s store of rum and ale will also be useful during the monsoon season.
I’ll salvage the dishes and furniture from my ship. Note to self: use the steering wheel to hang all of the macrame and weavings that you will make. Also, self, start practicing the piano again. You will need it once you bring your organ to camp.
I’ll treasure the ornately carved mirror from the Captain’s quarters. It will be both functional and a source of beauty for me, and the ship’s brushes, combs, soap, and detergent will be indispensable. Without them, I would not bother looking into my mirror.
This might seem unimportant to many, but I love rich fabrics. In addition to my other types of art, I enjoy working with textiles. I am one of those people who routinely goes into fabric stores simply to touch the fabrics. I buy much too much fabric. I buy it simply to look at it once I get it home. Textiles are beautiful to me, and I love to work with them, transposing them into other pieces that are more uniquely me.
Saving the captain’s bed, sheets, and pillows would be luxurious, but my spirit would need at least one quilt. If I have a fetish, it is a quilt fetish. My quilt must be soft, 100% cotton, and filled with cotton batting. If it is not these things, it will not drape around my body the way that I need it to drape. Now, this is picky, but my quilt must be totally stitched by hand–the quilting and all. My grandmother made quilts like that, and regardless of how hot the temperature gets, it is essential for to sleep with an old quilt. I like the way that it cups and cradles me as I rest.
The ship’s matches, candles, kerosene, and lamps will be my beacons. They will light my nights–both the physical ones and the emotional ones. You see, being stranded on an island can last a lifetime, and a lifetime without light and without beauty and without hope would be crushing for me. Once my spirit had been crushed, I wouldn’t last very long anyway.
My ship will also have writing utensils and journals and other paper. I don’t think that I could survive without a way to record my thoughts and feelings. With my writing devices, I’ll be able to express myself both in words and with drawings. I’ll use the paint on the ship to color my art, and I’ll use the oil onboard to develop other paint from berries and other things on the island.
I’ll hang the ship’s masthead to serve as sculpture and to also remind me from whence I came and the human that I am. My masthead will also be my angel–she will be my shrine–the place where I can simply look and feel peaceful.
After my excursions for more supplies are complete, the ship’s compass will help me find my way back to camp.
On listless nights, I’ll use the telescope to chart the starry sky and to help me dream and lullaby away the hours. During the days, I’ll use it to scour the horizon looking for rescue ships and predators.
My ship will also have guns and ammunition. I’m not sure how I’ll get it to my base, but it will have a cannon, too. I’ll need that when the approaching ship is flying a black flag with a skull and crossbones.
Other things that I will need for being stranded on my island.
2. Animals – I’ll need chickens to lay eggs and to provide an ever-renewing source of meat and writing quills. I’ll need a cow for milk, and I’ll need some sweet dogs to be my companions. One of the dogs must be my Lady girl. She would have been with me on the ship, and as we crashed, I would have held her tightly; therefore, getting her to camp would be simple.
3. Strong Handyman – All of these plans are nice, but I am not strong enough to do all the heavy lifting. I’ll need a strong man for that. He doesn’t have to be my lover. He just needs to help me lift and tote. I’ll help him build and adorn his own treehouse–in another tree.
4. Waterfall and Fresh Stream of Water – I’ll need the fresh, churning water for drinking water and bathing, and I’ll need the waterfall to provide me with a meditative retreat, complete with the soothing sounds that waterfalls make. When the sun hits the waterfall just right and creates a rainbow, my heart will skip a beat.
5. Flowers – Just yesterday, I wrote about the fact that I’ll always need flowers. They are a must for me.
In summary, it is nice to stop and consider all of the little, practical things that we depend upon–things that we take for granted. It is also nice to consider how much beauty helps sustain us. When asked to list the things that you would need when you are stranded on an island, you might think that the list would be short, but in reality, for most of today’s Americans, things that other people would consider to be luxuries have become our actual needs. Most of us have been allowed to move beyond physical survival in life. Some of us also need things to help us survive spiritually. While I am sure that I could continue to live without a few of the things that I would salvage from my shipwreck, I do need a certain number of things to sustain not only my body but also my soul.
©Jacki Kellum February 28, 2016