Friday, June 6, 2008

What I Learned in Hawaii

I learned a huge lesson in Hawaii. I know, I should have been relaxing, basking in the sun under the gentle caress of the trade winds, focusing my mind on nothing but the steady drum of the waves. But alas, I am a get-up-and-go kind of gal.

Isn't that what we are taught to be? Don't we equate relaxing with laziness? Aren't we taught that unless we are accomplishing something, we are being wasteful with our time? We take time-management courses to teach us how to cram more into our already busy lives. We opt for more 'convenience' meals to take food preparation out of the equation. We take the freeway instead of the rural highway to shave precious minutes off our travel time. We face the hassle and stress of running into Wal Mart for supplies because we can accomplish it in one stop. And when we do have a moment's peace, we use it to organize our thoughts so we can operate more effectively when we once again approach the start gate.

Ever been in the position where you have a ton of stuff to do, but circumstances prevent you from doing them? Have you been house sitting for someone else? Have you ever been stuck in a waiting room? How about on a long flight? one leg to Hawaii was nearly ten hours - how's that for free time?! What do you do in those situations? Do you sit and enjoy the peace and rest? Or do you do like I do, and think about all the things you could be doing if you weren't stuck in that situation?

Do you ever stop by the side of the road to look at a field of wildflowers? Do you take time to smell the flowers? Or do you whiz on by, untouched by the scenery around you, thinking of what you will say, and what you will do, when you reach your destination?

When I would call my uncle and ask him what he was doing, the answer would always by the same. "I'm zooming", he would say. Aren't we all, I would think. But I wonder, why are we always zooming?

God put us on this earth to love Him, and glorify Him, and to Live life. Live it! Do we really Live our lives? Or do we just live Through our lives? And if we are merely living through our lives, how are we glorifying God?

On the island of Kauai, the locals lived a much slower pace. Most of the stores opened at ten, and several were closed by four. One such store had a note on the door that gave a phone number and stated that the store owner lived nearby, and that you could call if you needed something outside of normal business hours. Cool! Speed limits were lower, houses were smaller (*Locals houses that is - the average home size is 700-800 square feet. Homes for the tourists to rent, as tourism is at the center of their economy, are large and extravagant for the most part-just like we like 'em.)

We spoke with one young man who was a guide on one of our excursions. He has lived in both Hawaii and in California. He said his job paid $11 an hour, and that you couldn't live off $11 an hour in California, but that you could on Kauai. That may surprise some of you familiar with the cost of living in Hawaii. The cost of electricity is greater there than anywhere else in the United States. A trip to the grocery store for me was an eye opener. A dozen eggs was over $4, and a half pound of butter was over $6. Land and houses are very expensive, where small lots of land can easily run over a half million dollars. do they live so much less expensively than on the mainland? The live with less! Our new friend told us that you don't need the clothes or shoes you do in California. Flip flops and a swim suit and a couple of pairs of shorts and T's and you are ready to go. They don't even need all the furniture for storing their stuff. They opt for smaller houses. They don't use alot of electricity. They use the very comfortable trade winds for natural air conditioning. The eat alot of the plentiful fresh fruit. They fish. They search for crabs. They hike and swim for entertainment. They fellowship with friends and family.

It is easy to fall into the slow lane if you live in such a place. But what about back here? Is it possible to slow down when you are surrounded by rushing? Just a couple of days home from vacation and we had a last minute dance meeting. Then we found we were scheduled to greet and usher at church, so we needed to arrive early. Next week my daughters and I are scheduled to do the nursery, and later in the month we are scheduled to take care of the preschool class. We suddenly have invitations for four different important events scheduled for the same time tomorrow. Someone is going to be disappointed. And try as we may to rest and enjoy our time of fellowship with family and friends, we will be zooming. Our calender for June already has over half it's squares marked with at least one thing. Most of the things on our calender are IMPORTANT. So, how can we slow the pace?

Try driving slower. I assure you you will incite rage in some over-stressed, over-rushed person. Try lessening your obligations. People will talk. Their words will be ugly! Try ignoring your children's 'gotta haves' and their 'wants' and spend more time at home with them and less at work. People really talk then. Trust me!

We have been trained to live this crazed, rushed way. We have been taught that what we do, what we accomplish and how much we have are a direct measure of our success. It is how we attach a value to our worth. We have to be reeducated to think and live differently. Until the time that it becomes second-nature, the very process of learning to live more simply will be Work, and it will be Hard. To attempt to live this way in a sea of people still accustomed to rushing is difficult at best. But the rewards will greatly outweigh the struggle to get there. God wants us to discover contentment, and in order for that to happen we need to take time to enjoy our surroundings. We need to take time to stop and smell the flowers.

1 comment:

egassner said...

What a wonderful post Natalie! I must say, the last few months I have been doing just this...slowing down.
We live pretty far in the boonies and it is easy to get away from the 'rush'. For awhile we were going to town for one thing or another and I felt like I didn't have time to breathe!
To change that, we try to go to town only once a week and we turn the TV off until it's time for the News. With this weather, we have been outside SOOOO much more!
What a difference it has made!