Time for a quick island truth.
Life on a rock can become suspiciously similar to life on the mainland. But only if you let it.
Case in point…
When I first arrived here, I took a very low responsibility job – I worked as a dive instructor at a busy dive shop. My only tasks were to show up at 7:45 a.m. (hopefully not suffering from the night before), clean the rinse tanks, hose down the floors and help get guests on the dive boats. Then I spent the day teaching scuba or babysitting guests’ kids who were too young to dive (the peril of being the only actual mom on the team…and the only staff member who didn’t claim to hate kids).
Okay, not officially babysitting. I was responsible for guiding courses with “fun” names like Bubblemaker. But at the end of the day, it was glorified babysitting so mom and dad could be free for a few hours to enjoy themselves. Then at 5:00 p.m., the shop closed, the kids were collected (thankfully!) by a smiling mom and dad, we cleaned stuff up, had a few beers and went home ourselves. End of responsibility. I was free of thinking about work until the next day. Lots of time for island fun. And I did have lots of island fun. Too much, perhaps. 😉
But eventually someone in their mid-40s is reminded why dive instructor is a title best reserved for those in their 20s. And, for the sake of our physical well-being, most of us move on to other ways of gainful employment. And on an island where you are the foreign object that usually means one thing – we start our own businesses.
At which point, there’s no longer a clocking out time of the day (although you can also have a beer any time you like). No clear delineation between work and play. You eat, sleep and breathe your new baby. And it becomes all-consuming. Much like running a business anywhere on the planet, actually. Surprise, surprise.
I think you know where this might be going…
We end up working. A lot. To the point of sort of forgetting where we live or why we live there. We stay locked up in air conditioned offices, sending just one more email, fixing just one more bug on our website, making just one more Skype call with a potential client. Even occasionally doing the actual work we love.
Until one day we realize we haven’t left the house in more days than we can remember (at least for those of us who run businesses from home). And that our healthy island glow is all but gone. The sparking swimming pool we HAD TO HAVE sits unused in our backyard. And the only place we ever end up going is the grocery store. Out of necessity, but it also functions as our sole social interaction with whomever we happen to run into there. Good or bad.
Sad, right? (But, hey, we don’t have to style our hair.)
Which makes it really important to remind yourself periodically that you need to make time for fun. That you can go to the beach and still meet your deadlines. That emails from clients can wait to be answered for a few hours. That the world isn’t going to implode if you spend some time with the people you love. That sitting behind a computer all day (and night) is a very poor substitute for sitting in front of the ocean with waves lapping at your feet.
This goes for anyone, anywhere, by the way. Whether you’re in a big city or a tiny tropical rock near the equator. Whether you toil for the man or run your own (soon-to-be) global enterprise.
You have to make the time to do the things that feed your soul. Whatever that may be. Hiking in the mountains? Lace up those boots. Kiteboarding? Pump up that kite and ride. Lunch with your bestie? Go ahead and have that second glass of wine.
The point is…get out there once in awhile and have some fun. It recharges your spirit and re-ignites your creativity. Which, in turn, makes you better at whatever it is you do for a living.
I know this may be hard, especially for the Type A people in the world (like me). But trust me, the emails and the Skype requests and the deadlines will still be there when you get back. And you’ll be super-charged for tackling them all.
I’m a writer living on the Dutch Caribbean island of Bonaire. Originally from the U.S., I followed my heart to the tropics in 2011 at the wizened age of 43. Since then, I’ve been blogging to inspire and entertain. I love kitesurfing, a good gin & tonic, and corgis.
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