Reflections is written by Island Fellows, recent college grads who do community service work on Maine islands and in coastal communities through the Island Institute, publisher of The Working Waterfront.
In life, there are moments in which we are called to make a choice, where we are granted an opportunity to leave behind the boundaries of what was once familiar and safe to pursue something that might not yet be tangible, concrete.
This illusive something lies beyond what is comfortable, and if we muster enough courage to venture just a little further, we will see that shrouded in the unknown is a tremendous gift—the opportunity for growth.
This past month in Machias has afforded me just that—growth, upon growth, upon more growth. Now I’m not saying this growth thing is easy, or beautiful, or fun, but it sure is rewarding and in so many ways.
Machias sure is different from my home in Boston, and even more so from my home in Brazil.
To me, the unknown wasn’t in the physical changes of the move from Boston to Machias, but rather in the sense that I was moving towards a completely new chapter in life—post-grad life, living on my own, working at a new place, and meeting new people.
“Scary,” I thought. Or, maybe not?
For though I did meet new people, the great majority were incredibly kind and welcoming, and though my work as an Island Fellow currently feels unfamiliar, I know that slowly and surely it will foster a positive impact in the community.
As for living on my own, it was daunting at first, but with the passing of weeks I came to embrace that once unknown space for what it could be: room for introspection and contemplation.
Which brings me to a small kernel of truth I’d like to share: Rather than fear that which you do not know, embrace it and make it your own.
After all, isn’t that what community building is all about? Embracing our differences and learning from perspectives that differ from ours?
Machias sure is different from my home in Boston, and even more so from my home in Brazil. Yet, its perceived Bold Coast ruggedness is accentuated by a communal warmth that rings true, from the simple hello of a stranger passing you on one of the many trails surrounding the area, to the hour-long conversation with one of the vendors at the farmers market.
I’m coming to see that the unique sense of community I found thus far in Machias is something that would not have happened if not for a willingness to dive into the experience of the unknown.
Machias’ quaint winding streets and long wooded trails hold a different surprise around every corner; the slow flowing tidal rivers, ospreys, and spruce forests are now becoming slightly more familiar, and the roadside apple trees bearing deep red fruit are now a welcome sight on my drives home from work.
Though there is still so much I don’t know, I now find comfort in the things I seek to learn.
Kawai Marin works with the Sunrise County Economic Council focusing on marketing, outreach, and communications. Originally from Brazil, he spent most of his life in Massachusetts. He earned a bachelor’s degree at Bates College studying environmental studies and anthropology.