Summer, Hawaii, 2012
It’s hot. Any cooling overnight freshness still lingering in the morning air evaporates by 8:00 am. Kona conditions have stilled the trade winds. By noon my cottage is stifling, the midday sun laser intense, and the trees won’t shade the beach until late afternoon.
I don’t remember what I did that day, but it wasn’t much. I probably struggled unsuccessfully to work on a painting or tried to figure out a function on my computer. I’m sure my attempts were desultory at best.
At 4:00 pm I made my way to the crowded beach. Feeling sluggish and out of sorts, I wondered idly what I could do to feel a little better, a little more engaged, a little more alive. I waded into the surf.
The mermaids whispered, do less.
DO LESS? DO LESS? I was hardly doing anything at all. LESS?
Up until now, engaging in the creative flow had been the light that has led me out of my darkest moments. I assumed the path out of the loneliness and isolation I felt living on an island would be to craft something. To be involved.
But the mermaids said to do less. They repeated the message over and over, adding RELAX RELAX RELAX, trying to get me to switch gears, to enjoy a slower pace. Even though it went against my energetic nature, I did try to embrace the rhythm of my surroundings, to let go into the languor of the hot tropical summer.
This simple offering of permission, to let go, to relax, to feel comfortable with doing less when it is appropriate, is one of the most enduring lessons from my time in Hawaii.
Are you feeling tense, angry, frustrated, tried, depressed or just blah? Try doing less. Practice expecting less from yourself. When I’m overwhelmed with all that needs to be done in my busy mainland life I remember that doing less doesn’t mean leaving important tasks undone, but rather to “do less” expecting myself to be so perfect in every way. The dogs might miss a walk, I might push back a deadline, and dinner will be probably be cheese toast on a paper plate.
Imagine a mermaid spirit frolicking in the surf, the sun glinting off her iridescent body. As you sense her lightness, feel some of the burdens you are carrying lift off your shoulders. Less. It’s always enough.