I’m back from my five-day vacation in Jamaica, and it was glorious! Filled with delicious fresh food, stirring conversations with my soul sister Lisandra, and luxurious beach lounging, it was just what I needed. I kept my promise to myself, and did not work even one minute during my vacation. Unplugging for five days felt really great, and I look forward to doing it again.
One thing that surprised me during my vacation was the speed and voraciousness with which I devoured books. I read (in this order) Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (a hilarious memoir of sorts from Mindy Kaling) during my flight from Austin to Miami, An Object of Beauty (a novel by Steve Martin) in the Miami airport while waiting for my delayed flight to Kingston, Interpreter of Maladies (a Pulitzer Prize winning collection of short stories written by Jhumpa Lahiri featuring a milieu of Indian characters) during my solo day at the beach, The Soulmate Secret (a self-help book about using the law of attraction to bring your soulmate to you) during a day of reading and eating in Kingston, and then made it very far into Conversations with God (a New Age book featuring Q&A with God by Neale Donald Walsch) on my last day. I’m now tearing through Pillars of the Earth (historical fiction by Ken Follet), and will probably force myself to finish the last Hunger Games novel after that.
During my time in Jamaica, Lisandra was astounded when I muttered to myself, “I can’t even remember what the last book I read was,” as I hungrily scanned her shelves.
“What?!” she exclaimed, incredulously. “But you love to read like I do! How did that happen?”
How did that happen? Growing up, reading was my favorite thing to do. While in college, I was always reading some self-help, spiritual, or New Age book or another. I plowed through fiction books during my stints living in Cuba and then Ghana. Even with all of the homework at Harvard, I was always reading a fiction book and a self-help book, retreating from the exhausting work of finance cases to the faraway lands in my latest read.
As I thought more about it, I realized that my love of reading had slowly been replaced by a compulsion to work driven by the mistaken belief that working more would bring me more money. I had somehow filled up every spare moment of time I had with excessive work, zoning out on social media, or hanging out with my friends. Yes, in 2012 I managed to read the first two of the three Hunger Games as well as the first two of the three Fifty Shades books, but both series left me wanting. Having read Interpreter of Maladies and now as I thoroughly enjoy Pillars of the Earth, I realize I wanted a book I could really sink my teeth into, featuring exquisite writing with delightful turns of phrase, excruciatingly delicious plot twists, and unforgettable, fleshed out characters.
Though a love of reading is a core part of Who I Am, I had somehow forgotten. It felt great to be reunited with my love of reading and simultaneously freed of working too much. Though I was in a country that was new to me, it also felt like a homecoming. Oh, yeah! I love living slowly! I love spending all day at the beach! I love reading for hours every day! This is Who I Am!
No, I’m not moving to Jamaica (though I did love it there and blended in well when I didn’t speak). But I am going to keep as much of my time in Jamaica with me as long as I can. I’m going to remember to live slowly, read in the sun, play in the water, eat great food in no hurry, and have long, deep conversations with my friends. I can do that right here in Austin, Texas. And of course, there’s always the opportunity to take a last-minute trip to the Caribbean in case I need a more vivid reminder.
What’s something about yourself (what you want in life, what you love to do, etc.) that you seem to have forgotten?