It goes without saying that life on an island is simple. It’s quieter. It’s relaxing. That’s the main factor in bringing people here for vacation – come to Roatan to recline on the beach and soak in the Caribbean’s calm waters! We’ve all seen the ads and maybe most of you have been on an island vacation where you spent your days lolling in the sand and wading into the crystal clear water. You spent your nights at beach bars, barefoot with a rum cocktail in hand. Yet one of the most glaring facts about tourists is the inability many people – particularly Americans – have to actually relax. But before you snicker, family and friends who know me so well, I say this with full understanding of the hypocrisy! I like to think I’ve at least adjusted better than many of my counterparts who only come for a week and invariably cannot turn off.
We are all so wired to keep doing things and to take advantage of every single minute that we just can’t stop and chill out. Time is money after all! And even if you’re on vacation, you paid to be here so you can’t possibly waste a single minute! Go from one activity to the next and plan your entire day! GO! GO! GO!
Guys, I’m going to let you in on a little secret…You all need to take a deep breath and just calmmmm downnnnn.
Now to be fair, this is something I’ve had to learn to do. It was not at all natural to me – the Queen of Doing Things. I have an incessant need to be busy. I can’t sit still for too long because I remember something else I wanted or had to do. I like to feel productive. However, I’ve learned here how to do something intentionally rather than letting all of those somethings control me. Wherever I’ve been before, I’ve had to do somethings constantly and those somethings were always focused on the future.
Whenever I was in Massachusetts those somethings were running around to see all of my friends and family in the short time I was visiting back home. They were constant texting and calling to arrange breakfast or drinks or a quick coffee squeezed between other meet-ups and catch-ups.
When I was living in Washington, DC, those somethings were checking emails, scouring Twitter for the latest news, sprinting down the mountainous escalators to catch the train that was pulling into the station – because we all know I couldn’t possibly waste another 3 minutes waiting for the next train to come!
When I lived in Ecuador those somethings were planning my next jaunt around the country, emailing and getting updates from friends and family back home, and filing the thousands of photos I was taking onto my computer to show everyone later.
My somethings were always a step ahead of me, forcing me to focus on another time and place.
Living here on the island, the somethings I choose to actively do are slightly less frantic than in the past (except on cruise ship days since you guys are on a schedule for every stinking minute). My somethings here consist of writing on my front porch while I listen to the waves and the birds, intentionally napping in a hammock, watching pelicans dive-bomb for fish in my bay, watching the sunset over the water every day – even if I’m still working, and running my toes through the sand every morning and every evening while Lina runs around on our beach.
My island somethings are rejuvenating rather than exhausting. They refresh my soul rather than steal my attention from being here in this moment right now.
I’ve had several discussions lately with the Irish-Colombian about the art of nothingness. He thinks even my island somethings are too much and that I need to learn the art of doing nothing. He’s afraid maybe women just don’t understand it, that men have this zone of nothingness that they hold dear. He thinks I don’t know how to just be. I see where he’s coming from. I don’t think I know how any human can do nothing…you can’t just stop thinking! But I do see the value in doing as little as possible in order to better appreciate where you are in the moment.
In lieu of doing nothing, I choose to actively do somethings. But my somethings have changed drastically living here. My active somethings are no longer so active, but they’re still far more than nothing. These are active somethings you guys should be doing on an island! Actively focus on enjoying where you are and on relaxing. If you can do that with me, I think we can hold off on mastering the art of nothingness for now.
Besides, according to this guy (and how convenient that my cute roomie found this to prove his theory), I just don’t have a “nothing box” anyway. Maybe you do. If so, congratulations, you’re designed for island life!