Last weekend, Ben and I were privileged to spend a weekend away in the San Juan islands to celebrate the wedding of some good friends of ours. We feel so fortunate to live in a part of the country where such a gorgeous spot for a getaway is just a few short hours away! In those few hours of travel, however, we were transported further away than just the 105 miles it took to get from our home to the island.
The week preceding our trip, we had to cram as much as we could fit into a shorter week in order to fulfill our responsibilities before taking off for the weekend. We found ourselves rushing every single day, getting to bed late and waking up early, running errands and trying to cross each item off our long to-do lists. Once we got in the car and made our way to the ferry, however, we became quickly acquainted with what the locals have aptly coined “island time.” Having parents who lived in Hawaii for 13 years, I was not unfamiliar with this phrase, but I had assumed it had more to do with the culture of Hawaii and the laid back lifestyles of the Hawaiian people. Though the culture of the San Juans is much different, the concept of island time still persists. Through this, I came to realize that it is actually the island itself that dictates and necessitates this lifestyle.
As we sat in line for 4 hours, having missed the ferry that we had intended to catch, I found it extremely difficult to transition from the hustle and bustle of our home life to the relaxed, laid back freedom of surrendering to island time.
Once on the island, we saw this laid back and casual perspective on time continue. Everything was leisurely, and I had to check myself when we would sit at a table at a restaurant and not immediately be met with a server with a menu and water. Patience is a virtue, and surely one I ought to work on, but in our extremely fast-paced lifestyle, I found it hard to break away and relax and allow time to pass more passively while we were on the island.
Now we’re back, we’ve jumped into the swing of things, and our days once again start early and end late, and I find myself yearning for something simpler and easier and less strenuous. Does it actually take living on an island to achieve this laid back lifestyle? Is it possible to achieve “island time” while living on the mainland, or does it require removing oneself physically from the society that perpetuates the fast and furious lifestyle that us urban folk are used to living?
Ben and I (hopefully) have a healthy appreciation of the city and (sub)urban lifestyle, having shops and industry and everything we could possibly want all within a one-mile radius of our front door. However we do long for that lifestyle that allows us to relax our schedules a bit more and go with the flow. But what does this kind of lifestyle entail?
In talking about this with Ben, I brought up the idea that refusing to utilize the “convenience” of having everything close and within a 5-minute drive seems almost inconvenient, in a way. Meaning, if we strove to live more like our neighbors in Hawaii or the San Juans while still residing in our suburb of Seattle, we would have to give up what we already have to achieve the island time lifestyle. To put it more simply, the absence of convenience is inconvenient, so to speak (it may sound like a stretch, but bear with me). Is that what makes it hard for us to say no to things that are so easy to say yes to? For instance, if we were to live on an island and have a $70 ferry ride between us and wherever we wanted to go, as well as a sparse ferry schedule to contend with, making use of conveniences wouldn’t really be convenient anymore, would they? But since we do live so close to everything, it seems like it would be an inconvenience to go without those conveniences.
The jury is definitely still out, but the ball is rolling! Here’s to a simpler and less hectic summer!