These three shots are from Dan's blog for this week.
“I was just calling to remind you of what you left behind,” my friend tells me. He and his wife are safely back home, and today was his first day at work. I can see him now, driving home in his boxy Honda Element, bluetooth tucked behind his ear as he vents a little about his day, more frustrated than anything. He was never a complainer, so he has little tolerance for people who continually complain. For people who can’t, or won’t appreciate what they have. And, after their visit here, he’s thinking Dan and I are more smart than crazy.
I tell him I don’t need the reminder, I know what I left behind. I know what I gave up. He says something about living in paradise in poverty, and how that might not be such a bad thing.
The sun is out, and the dogs are fidgety from too many naps and not enough walks. Lucy’s surgery, and our friends visit kept them homebound, and their restless energy is making me restless.
They are in their element as we walk along a secluded beach that stretches for miles. In their version of heaven, Baxter and Lucy run in the surf, duck their nose in the water to catch a floating piece debris, roll around in the sand; it’s pure bliss.
As I walk, I think about what John said. For some reason his poverty in paradise comment doesn’t sit right. Even though I have said that on this blog, and it’s true. We count every penny now, carefully considering how it will be spent. I could probably get food stamps if I wanted to. Still, his comment doesn’t feel right.
When it comes down to it, I don’t feel poor. I feel rich. My life is abundant with love, beauty, growth, inspiration, health, and time. Weeks fly by as Dan and I rebuild our lives, start new careers, and adjust to life on a small island.
There is time for exploration. Exploration of rocky tide pools, of professional photographers and writers, of what works and why—the crushing why nots. Exploration of spirit and the depths of love. There is time for sunsets, walks on the beach, snorkeling, and visiting with friends.
There is also a lot of stress: learning a new career, networking, the isolation of writing and living on this island. Being the new kid in town. Making new friends. Worrying about money, and making the time for those sunsets. I have a gratitude prayer that I say every morning and night, it keeps me going, but sometimes I forget.
Mostly, I’m happy about our life choice. It’s like working out; getting all sweaty and feeling my heart pound against my chest makes me feel alive. Everything isn’t perfect, and that’s OK because, for me, perfect is boring. We made this move so we could be challenged, pushed to our edge, perform or go home.
I think about my friends and family. Most have significantly bigger incomes than us, but they also have a big mortgage, loans to pay off, credit card debt, and lots of stuff. And as I learned from John, even health insurance isn’t a guarantee that everything will be taken care of. Are they really better off? Are they wealthy? Or, are we all dealing with the same thing? Survival, and trying to have a good time while we’re at it . . . thriving. Thurvival!
I’m not saying that living in poverty in paradise is the way to go. It’s tricky business, and certainly not for everyone. When John met Dan’s new boss he said, “You’re so lucky to live here!” She kind of tilted her head to the side, looked out of the corner of her eye, and said, “Are we?” No one said anything. “I guess we are, we’re just too busy trying to survive!”
My point is that no matter where you are, how much you make, or how much you have, we are all in the same boat. We all worry about money, health, work, relationships and thurviving. We just have a better view.