There is some saying, the sort you see on people’s facebook pages with pictures of sunsets and mountains about how we don’t own our children, we just get to hang out with them for a while. I agree with that – I think I have many responsibilities as a parent – to my children, to myself and to society as a whole but ultimately I am only a part of the many influences they will have – credit, or indeed blame is certainly not all mine for who they are and the path they take through life.
My relationship with Rum is a bit like that. I have been through periods here where I strongly feel that Rum belongs to the people who live here right now. That there is too much focus on the ‘back in the day brigade’, too much time spent harking back to how things used to be done, too much energy wasted on history. To an extent I still believe that but I also have come to understand that just because I am one of the 40 people who currently have Rum as my permanent address it does not give me any greater claim to stake on Rum as mine.
I have met people in the last few weeks who have been visiting this island not just since before I even knew Rum existed, but since before I was even born! People who have had a long association with the island and trodden on areas of it I likely never will. People who understand more about the geology, archaeology, wildlife, nature, history than I ever will. I have met people who experienced a Rum I will never know, long before the birth of the community trust or the creation of the croft I call home. People for whom the current electoral role of the island means nothing and us residents are just the incidental custodians of what happens during this period in the islands history but in the scheme of things are just names, just like the list of names I have heard and the photos of faces I have never met but who played a huge part in shaping the place I now live in.
I have also spent time these last few weeks talking about Our Rum – how many children live here NOW, what brought OUR family to the island and what keeps us here. I have served people in the shop, helped people at the hostel, baked cakes and made soup to feed folk visiting for the day on Saturday, been responsible for the chickens living here which laid the eggs they ate for breakfast down in the guest house they stayed at in the village, written this blog that may have shaped their very decision to visit Rum or not, been part of the decision making process for the latest employee and therefore most recent potential resident for the island.
It’s a funny experience living here – at once you feel both humbled by your smallness and insignificance whilst feeling a great sense of power and influence by virtue of being one of such a small number making such monumental decisions during this snapshot period of the islands history.
And when all of that gets too much to process…. I go and sow more seeds in the polytunnel or hang out with the piglets for a bit. The upside of this life is you don’t need to travel more than a few footsteps to get thoroughly grounded once more!