It is ok to relax

One of the many white sand beaches

Each day we are in the Bahamas we become a little more relaxed. We have had one idyllic day after another. One lovely sunny warm day after another. The days start blending together like a watery turquoise dream.

There are hundreds of postcard perfect, empty, white sand beaches around here. Every island has at least a couple of them. And we rarely see anyone on them. Lying on the beach in the sun is not really a big activity around here, strangely enough, since one of the main reasons people come to the Bahamas is for the pristine beaches. We have not “sunbathed on a beach” the whole time we’ve been here. Maybe because the sun is so intense and hot, that we really don’t want to be out in it more than necessary, especially in the heat of the day. And unfortunately, almost none of these beaches has any shade whatsoever. But we have been longing for at least one sterotypical day at the beach. Even though we’ve been in relaxation vacation mode the whole time we’ve been here, believe it or not, we haven’t had any days where we actually just lounged around and read books all day, sipping iced drinks. Until today. We finally found a beach WITH SHADE. And lounge chairs. We decided to declare the day an official “do nothing but hang out lazily on the beach” day. We brought blankets and books and hats and drinks, and set up camp in the shade for a whole day of hanging out. I went for little cooling swims every hour or so. We didn’t even talk about where we are going next or any of the “future planning” we are always in the midst of figuring out.

We were reflecting on the fact that even though we have been getting so good at relaxing, being in the moment, and letting life unfold rather than operate off of to-do lists, we still have that little voice that tells us we need to be productive, DO DO DO, WORK WORK WORK, GO GO GO. Cap’t K. has had his boat to-do list at hand the entire trip, constantly working on project after project. I’ve been tackling a steady lineup of weaving projects, with yarn actively on my loom almost our entire trip. While we’ve been travelling, there has been a constant agenda to “get to the next place”. And that’s great. It feels good to be productive and get things done. There is such a satisfying sense of accomplishment in getting to the next place or finishing the latest improvement project. But we also came on this trip to experiment with giving ourselves a time-out from all that, and to develop a new relationship with the word “relaxed”. So it was interesting for me to notice a certain inner resistance to really taking one whole day to do nothing and go nowhere. Even during times that we have been in one spot for awhile, there has always been a never ending list of errands to run, water to fetch, stuff to clean, projects to do.
But then I remembered times in my life when I have been in an isolated, pristine wilderness environment where I was completely away from the busy blur of modern life. Those times have usually consisted of a few short days. And each time I was in that type of setting, I desperately yearned for weeks, months of that kind of downtime from the busyness of society. And finally, now, for the first time in my life, I have it. It is a gift and I have to remind myself that IT IS OK TO RELAX. IT IS OK TO RELAX. Perhaps this is the most difficult lesson of our whole trip…..if we learn it well will we be able to bring this quality back to “the real world” with us???

As we bask in the most perfect dreamy part of our long journey so far, there is often the nagging thought in the back of our minds that we have to “go back” soon, and our time to return to New England and get off the boat for awhile is drawing nearer each day. It is so tempting to want to hang onto this, to not go back, to make these ideal, happy days last forever. But today we read a passage in a book called “Euell Gibbons Beachcomber’s Handbook” that reminded us of an important truth:
“Never say ‘I have found the road to happiness’, for happiness is a gypsy, and the same road does not lead twice to her dwelling place. Say rather, ‘Happiness walked with me on the road I was taking,’ for happiness walks on many roads. Welcome her as she falls in step beside you, revel in her companionship, but don’t attempt to lay permanent hold of her, for she easily slides from the hands that clutch too tightly….there is another sense, however, in which happiness, once she has shared our path, never deserts us entirely. I am not speaking of those pleasant daydreams of the past in which all of us occaionally linger, for that is a phony, substitute happiness with little resemblance to the real article. I’m talking about how past experience affects present activities….and how faith had led me from one joyful experience to another, and on each new adventure I have had at least a brief rendezvous with happiness.”

May we continue on our path touched by the relaxation and happiness we are finding here in these healing turquoise waters, and may happiness find you on whatever path you are on as well!


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