One of my favourite places to visit is Hawaii. I love the balmy weather, the beautiful scenery and the casual pace of life. We try to visit Hawaii every chance we get, not only to get away, but also to visit my wife’s family in Honolulu.
Her 90 year-old grandmother wakes up every morning to ride the North Shore waves on her vintage surfboard–just kidding! Actually, her grandma spends every morning tending to her organic garden–and we got to sample some of her prized harvest during the many family gatherings.
Our most recent trip to Hawaii in January 2014 was a memorable family vacation. We spent many days with grandma enjoying local Chinese cuisine and did two things we had never done before. The first was swimming with the dolphins at Sea Life Park. We learned all about dolphin anatomy and behaviour and we even had the opportunity to kiss and “dance with” the dolphins! It was an amazing experience and it was so gratifying to see the awe and sheer delight in my kids’ faces!
The second thing that we had never done before was spend two full days just hanging out on the beach. I sensed that my soul was craving some down time, a chance to relax. So we rented a big beach umbrella and set up a couple of chairs and planned to spend the whole day without any activities or schedules. Now, to be honest, the first several hours of our beach days weren’t very reenergizing for me. I still felt the need to be “doing something,” so I built sand castles with the kids, did some fishing, swam in the ocean, went for a long walk and explored a nearby resort. I found myself feeling “busy” and literally had to force myself to sit still. Once I was able to do so, I had the chance to read and to reflect on 2013.
As I thought about how busy 2013 was, from dealing with health issues in the family, to the expansion of our clinic, I remembered how anxious I was and how it seemed like I was always running around to get something started or finished. One book that I read on this vacation really connected with me. The author was describing the behaviour of people who have “hurry sickness.” He notes that this condition is when:
– you find yourself rushing even when there’s no reason to
– you find yourself constantly multi-tasking
– at the grocery store, if you had a choice between two check-out lines, you find yourselves counting how many people are in each line, multiplying this number by the number of items per cart
– you set up mock races (“Ok, kids, let’s see who can take a bath fastest.”) that are really about your own need to get through it
– you sense a loss of gratitude and wonder
– you indulge in self-destructive escapes from fatigue: abusing alcohol, watching too much TV, online shopping or over indulging in junk food
One of my goals for 2014 is to practice slowing things down and to not succumb to hurry sickness. What this means for me is to be better organized, so that I don’t need to rush to meet my deadlines. It also means that I will be intentionally setting aside time to read, reflect and to learn how to relax. I am looking forward to seeing how 2014 will unfold as I put into practice here, at home, what I started in Hawaii.
Happy Near Year!