Ram Dass said: "if you think you are enlightened, then go spend a week with your family."
It's week 20 of being isolated with my family on Alderney, a Channel Island barely touched by COVID-19. It's something that none of us anticipated, but I'm using this time to reconnect with them, with myself and with nature.
Floating between England and France, with a population hovering around 2,000 people, Alderney is the kind of place where front doors remain unlocked and homegrown vegetables are left out for passing neighbours. Cow walk up to your doorstep while iron age pigs bask in the sun, mere metres from Shetland ponies, horses and donkeys.
This is a place of bohemians, bankers and barn dances. Fishermen's cottages rub shoulders with Roman fortresses. Days on vast, empty beaches give way to evenings cosied up by the Aga or gathering in the orangery at the local pub. Julie Andrews once said: "When there is rain in England, you can count on the sun in Alderney."
Above all, this is a place where people look out for each other. Rainbow flags line the coastline, the queer community is strong here. I ask a gentleman and his husband I frequently pass walking their dog on the beach why he thinks it's so. "isn't it obvious?" he replies. "We feel safe."
And thats exactly it. Why they're here, i'm here, and why you'll probably visit here - it is a place of solace, a place of community. I've spent the last 10 years galavanting between major cities. Have I just lost my sense community - of reality?
Despite the geographical isolation, islanders feel the reverberations of the current health and social crises rippling across the Channel. They remain informed, aware and educated. They feel the existential shift. It's in this climate that, now more than ever, I think those living on Alderney have a true understanding of a quality of life. They grow what they eat, spend more time with their families than on their phones, more time indoors than out, and care for each other through daily acts of kindness. This island is my solace.