Of Isak Dinesen’s famous salt trio — “The cure for anything is salt water – tears, sweat, or the sea” — I choose the sea. My dad grew up diving in SoCal, and I inherited his love of all things ocean: its sound, its smell, its hidden creatures. And going for a swim in the sea is one of the most therapeutic activities I know.
Unfortunately, Puget Sound isn’t conducive to saltwater dips. So I had to escape to Hawaii.
And then — after five days of sun and saltwater and pineapple wine (YES! PINEAPPLE WINE! IT’S A THING!) — I flew back to reality.
I took the bus downtown and walked to work and saw that everything was grey. I mean, it’s always been that color, but after drinking in brilliant blue for a week, it came as a shock. And then the list of daily items starts running through your head, everything that should get done, all the worries and preoccupations. Paradise lost, indeed.
One of our first evenings in Hawaii, we went to a luau and ended up having drinks afterwards with the dancers (you know, as one does). We were chatting with a couple of the guys, asking them about life on the islands, how they spend their days.
Said one of the gentlemen: “I swim, surf, play beach volleyball, dance at night… you know, just live my life.”
Oh yes. Why didn’t I ever think of that.
I mean, really, it’s easy to get bitter. For all the dreaming of picking up and moving to a tropical island — for most of us, it’s not feasible (or even really desirable when we take a step back and think about it). And I don’t think that’s the solution anyway. Maybe what we love about paradise — what we crave about it — is the simple idea that invades our brains while we’re there: not everything matters.
Not everything matters. Not everything is a big deal. Do what you love, do what makes you happy, and don’t get caught up in the rest.
We saw dolphins leap with what could only be described as joy. We saw humpback whales breach. A sea turtle and I regarded one another quietly under the waves. And it all makes you feel… well, small. Remarkably unnoticed. But it’s not a bad thing. It reaffirms the fact that you’re a small piece of a big world, something more vast and complex than you could ever imagine.
You never want to board that plane. But the dream always ends and we wake up to reality. And you know what? Reality is ok, too. Last night I sat in the backyard and read a beer* and watched the evening sun play on the hawthorn tree. Find the things you love, and let the rest go.