“When you dance, your purpose is not to get to a certain place on the floor. It is to enjoy each step along the way.” Wayne Dyer.
One activity sure to generate creative ideas is to change your routine. Travel, for the writer, fills the mind with an abundance of images that provide fodder for the imagination. When you travel to a place that once was home, the images that flood the mind come not only from the surroundings, but also from the hidden recesses of the mind.
I am privileged this week to once more be visiting the site of my childhood, the island that transformed me from an English girl to an Island woman; that provided me with a rich cultural lens through which to view the rest of my life. I have met up with people I went to primary school with. We reminisced about playing in the caves behind the school; the time we had to help to put out a fire in the cane piece; the novelty of me being the only white kid in the school.
Along with images and memories come the experiences. Jamaican life is different from life in the USA. For a start there are the contrasts. Magnificent mansions contrast with simple one room shacks. Smooth fast highways drop you onto country roads where your teeth may be rattled loose from your head as you weave around potholes, or swerve around corners. But the scenes more than compensate for the bumps as you stare out on a turquoise sea that deepens to indigo; or gaze upon blue ridges to the east or frilly hills to the west. The night chorus provides the soundtrack; fresh fruit and spicy dishes satisfy the palate; every sense is awakened in Jamaica.
And don’t get me started on the drivers; the politics; the scandals; the sports; the music; the news. America seems much further away than the short plane ride to South Florida. When you’re here you are most definitely not there. But the distractions can also help to put your regular life into context. As you see how others live, you can see possibilities for how you could be living your own life. Vacations generally allow you to pull back. Those things that may seem overwhelming in the ‘real world’ may become more manageable. A solution to a problem may appear like a dream in the night. And even if it doesn’t, a good vacation should fortify you and give you renewed vigor to tackle those tasks.
This morning I am without some of the tools of my trade, so my message may be brief. But my surroundings mandate that I must think of my parents, and how their move to Jamaica in their forties allowed them to reinvent their lives. They kept their faith and their beliefs, but found a totally different way to channel their talents and direct their efforts. My father was able to create a vision for himself and the people around him that elevated and inspired, that showed others a new way of seeing things.
There are times we need to draw back and look at the arc of our life; to assess where we have traveled from and where we are going. But most of all we should look at where we are and see if we are being the best that we can be. And if not, we should look for ways to repurpose our lives, to look for meaning and purpose. For it is not in the having, but in the being that we will find our joy.
As I relax among friends and laugh out loud too many times to count, I give thanks for the many blessings of my life, and the relationships that keep me connected. I give thanks for the mangoes; the fry fish on a beach on the north coast; the generosity of country people (drops and pear and roast breadfruit); and the time to pull back and ask the question: What is my purpose?
On this Friday morning, typing with one finger on my iPad up in the foothills of the Blue Mountains (a sliver of paradise with tiny humming birds and giant bees darting from flower to flower) I wish for everyone moments to appreciate the moments of your life. Have a wonderful weekend, Family!