By Sarri Gilman
Twenty-six years ago, I hopped on the ferry to Whidbey Island to go to lunch. It turned out to be a very long lunch, now going on 27 years.
Every summer lots of people visit Whidbey Island, and when we chat I am always asked this question first, “What do people do to make a living here?” The answer is we all do different things to earn a living here.
I’ve noticed during my 26 years on south Whidbey that many people create their own work. If you have an entrepreneurial bent, if you do something very useful, if you do something other people are not doing, if you get along great with other people, if you can get by on a little or nothing for a long time, if you work off the island, living on an island could work.
There are a lot of “ifs” to consider.
I’ve done both, worked on and off the island. Like many people, I’ve had more than one job at a time. My work has been a patchwork of many jobs simultaneously. This is true for lots of island people.
You may go to grocery store and the person who rings up your groceries is taking your dinner order in a restaurant in the evening, and then that same person may be processing your ticket order at the local theater, or giving you a facial at the local salon.
I have noticed that many of my fellow islanders are busy people.
Oftentimes summer visitors imagine we work very little on the island, and they are shocked to learn how busy we are.
Even those of us who live here are shocked by how busy we are.
The second thing our visitors want to know is, “How do you cope with the ferry?”
I personally think we have one of the most beautiful commutes and shortest ferry rides ever. It isn’t hard to cope with 15 minutes, whale sightings, coffee with friends and neighbors, or time to read.
The truth is that we island people do know how to mostly avoid the long ferry lines you find yourself sitting in. I notice you all love to come and go about 10:30 in the morning. I avoid that time zone for commuting.
We use buses, bikes, spare cars, shamelessly begging for rides and borrowing commuter cars, whatever it takes to avoid a line.
Here is some thing I don’t get asked.
“What is like to live in a small community where you are one degree of separation from everyone?” It is nice to be greeted by your first name everywhere you go.
We know each other and yet we can completely surprise each other. The trick is to keep on growing and evolving and making connections with each other.
I find myself painting watercolors for a couple of years, and then I am singing in a choir. I never sang in a choir before. Then a knitting shop opens in my town, and I run down with my needles in hand, joining in, again and again. There are so many things to participate in.
Taking advantage of what is here, right in front of me is how I live on Whidbey.
My husband has a beautiful saying, “if you just wait here long enough, everything eventually comes to Whidbey.”
That has proven to be very true.
Sarri Gilman is a freelance writer living on Whidbey Island and director of Leadership Snohomish County. Her column on living with meaning and purpose runs every other Tuesday in The Herald. You can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.