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Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Hurry Up and Relax

The calendar hanging by my desk tells me to "hurry up and relax" as the snow white beach goer in the picture checks her watch once again. Why do we do that to ourselves? We pack the beach books, the cold drinks, the grapes and cheese or sandwiches or whatever we always take to the beach, towels, suntan lotion, etc. and head off to relax with the sounds of waves lapping or breaking depending on where you live, and then so many of us don't allow ourselves to settle down and rest. We should leave the cell phone in the car or better yet take it with us in case of an emergency. Put it in a plastic bag to keep out the sand but turn it off! We need to give ourselves a chance. By the way, don't forget the chocolate - yes, that's right - chocolate. Nothing better than a cold Milky Way at the beach to regenerate your energy. {I'm shameless.} It will help you to meditate for at least as long as the mini-bite lasts.

I had the privilege of living on the island of Kaua`i in Hawai`i for 12 years before I moved to Mobile, and tourists {I was a kama`aina (local) you see} never failed to amaze me when I planted myself on the beach for Saturday afternoons. Rental cars would come speeding up, two or more lily-white tourists would pour out, make a mad dash for the water, tossing flip-flops {or slippers as they are known in Hawai`i} on the beach with their towels, and fight the waves, which on a normal day are three-four feet, to get wet, splash each other a few times, then grab their towels, hurry to their car, and dash off to enjoy the next Hawai`ian attraction. Obviously they had missed the whole Hawai`ian experience. They had cheated themselves of the sights and sounds of those mystical Hawai`ian waters full of magnificent fish, whales, turtles. They had missed the sound of the lulling waters crashing against the sand. They had missed the overwhelmingly gorgeous reds and yellows of the sunrises and sunsets, the whales and dolphins and monk seals. I wanted to run to their cars and tell them to slow down, forget seeing every little or big thing on every island, savor the moment, inhale deeply and absorb the true experience, but they would have probably called 911 to lock up the crazy lady.

The whole point of this story, while it looks obvious, probably isn't. To experience the writing life at its best, we have to sit a while, dream a while, drift and actually think a while - pick your spot, the beach, the backyard, the library - stare off in the distance, listen to the sounds, smell the sea, the flowers, the leather. I personally love that wonderful inner peace when I'm lying at the warm beach or reclining in the backyard, the stillness as my mind drifts, children's voices in the distance, birds chatting, the smell of fresh cut grass or the salty sea. Some of my best insights come in those times - that character analysis I've been trying to capture, that plot point I've been struggling to find. The answers often bubble from an inner spring of creativity and always surprise me with their simplicity.

It helps to remember that sometimes life is jaded by the glare of the yellow brick road. Mahala

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