Slowing down is fairly trendy right now. Everything from the slow food movement to things like slow fashion, slow photography and slow parenting seem to want to buck against our capitalistic, technology-crazed culture that hungers for more and right now. In our society, slowing down is a luxury. And to do it, you must be willing to swim against the current, lest being easily swept into the rushing flow.
So what happens when you find yourself on a remote island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean seemingly far removed from that? Well I’m here to tell you that many of the clichés about island life are true, especially the one about everything moving slower. Y’all, it’s for real.
What’s interesting is that I don’t necessarily think it’s that island people aspire to be slower. I think the island forces them to be. There are many practical reasons for this. One in particular is that everything here is tiny, tiny, tiny. Tiny streets mean you have to pull over and let people pass you slowing down your drive. Tiny living spaces mean tiny appliances and you have to do five loads of laundry instead of two. Tiny parking lots mean you drive around for ten minutes just trying to find a space at the local grocery store.
I must tell you I was really looking forward to this slower pace on my island adventure. I had a vision of a really chill version of myself, sporting beachy waves in my hair, strumming slow jams on my ukulele while my Mai Tai melted in the sun.
But since setting up shop here two weeks ago, I have felt more Stitch than Lilo, with this gnawing and growing frenzy inside myself. I’m having a hard time focusing for longer than twenty minutes. I’m constantly irritated with how long it takes to get anywhere. And I’m already planning parts of my life when I get back home.
I have come to know that our strengths are double-edged swords. They benefit our lives until their extremes become our liabilities. My penchant for quick decision-making serves me well until it delves into impulsiveness. My ability to get a lot done quickly is a true asset until it flips to impatience. But what they all have in common is this inner aching to rush things.
Being here where the culture actually promotes slowing down you’d think I’d finally feel at peace with my longing to do so. But how do you let go of the extremes without letting go of the parts that have made you successful?
I think the only thing to do is literally to check yo self before you wreck yo self. Wise words, Mr. Ice Cube.
Checking in with myself as thoughts run amok in my head allows me to question if they are actually true. Like do I really need to get everything done on my to do list right now?
Questioning the reality of my thoughts helps to limit the frenzy of impulsive and impatient actions and ensure I can take care good of myself instead of ending my day downing a bottle of wine just to release all my pent up anxiety.
So here on this island where traffic and people and time seems to move slower, I will take a deep breath (or several hundred) and try to remember that sometimes thoughts are nothing but thoughts. And that letting go of being so attached them is the ultimate act of living well. Well, that and sipping on a Mai Tai.