The Real Truman Show

“She’s 85 years old, can you believe it?” said my friend after we briefly chatted to his lovely, well-spoken grandmother who lives on a little Irish island half the size of Buckingham Palace Gardens. But she looked 50, spoke like was 30 and walked as if she’d be ready to run a full marathon tomorrow. I couldn’t believe my eyes.

Only 29 people live on Horse Island in 19 houses and in the two days I spend there, I met half of them. They all looked too happy, too healthy, were too friendly, so it felt a bit like The Truman Show and I was Truman Burbank. But as it turns out, I wasn’t. It was just an oasis of happiness where a handful of people have managed to find a way to avoid any form of socialism, communism or capitalism. Oh, yes, and no internet, no cable TV and no bars. Or restaurants.

I jumped on a plane after that surreal weekend trying to figure out what just happened. I mean, how can one live without all the perks of today’s society and still be so happy? I couldn’t wrap my head around it. But then, right before I landed, it hit me. John, Patricia, Paddy’s grandmother and the other 26 people on Horse Island don’t need to rush to any meeting. They’re not exposed to any noise, dirt, traffic, smoke or stress. And they live in an incredibly small and friendly community, which feels like one big, happy family.

So then I realised: the ideal society is formed in small clusters of big families, where everything happens, more or less, locally. Simple formula, pret-a-porter for all of us urban people. But there’s also a good chance this could only ever happen on Horse Island or The Truman Show, I’m not sure yet.

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