I just spent the past two weeks in paradise with my husband Pat. We traveled to French Polynesian and floated our way through the islands, exploring Tahiti, relaxing in Bora Bora and adventuring in Moorea.
Like all adventures, the islands opened our eyes to a completely different way of life. The Polynesians take an entirely different approach to life than we do in Los Angeles and the US. And while I’ll always be a city girl at heart (LA born and raised and never leaving), I’m bringing a bit of that island living back with me with these principles that all islanders live by.
ONE - They work to live and make just enough money to be able to do what they want to do. Our ATV tour guide only worked his guide job 3 days a week because he wanted to spend the other days working on his farm, where he could grow enough produce to provide for his community. He only needed 3 day’s worth of wages to live, so he worked just that.
Pat and I could not believe it! If we only needed to work 3 days a week to afford our lifestyle (wouldn’t that be amazing?!) we would still work those other 2 days simply to make more money, save more, invest more, or just have more.
But maybe they’re on to something? We both consistently push business through after dinner, on the weekends and on vacation. For what though? We’re always tired, overworked and feel burned out. Our work benefits us, but isn’t necessarily bettering our community as a whole.
Our takeaways: work will always be there if we want it. But our time to LIVE is limited, so we should spend more time doing that. Or maybe just getting more sleep.
TWO - They live seasonally and simply. Because they’re an island nation smack in the middle of the Pacific Ocean everything has to be shipped over, making it extra expensive. There is only one supermarket. Two ATMs. The WiFi will work sometimes, but not always. Cars are generational investments and not temporary toys.
And because so many are good with having enough to live, there’s no rush for the latest iPhone, a new skincare product, or a shiny new anything. A large part of their food is homegrown and neighbors trade bananas and mangos for lettuce and cucumbers. Or chicken eggs for a just-caught tuna fish.
I’m not saying we should all abandon our iPhones - god knows I spent half of my trip just chasing a wifi signal. But leaving the land of abundance - there are different 5 grocery stores within walking distance from me and 3 large malls - to the land of simplicity reminded us that there is still contentment and fulfillment without *stuff*.
THREE - The island is one big community; everyone works together, moves together, accommodates each other and helps each other out. You know those TV shows set in a small town where everyone knows everyone, and they come together regularly because that’s what good humans do? And you watch it and think - that would never, ever exist/happen, but a small part of you wishes for such a strong sense of community and neighborliness?
It’s real guys. And also, surreal.
Coming from a town of ‘me first’, ‘my time is more important than yours’, and ‘what’s in it for me’ (love you LA, but let’s not kid ourselves) I couldn’t believe how genuinely invested each person is in another. A win for one is a win for all.
You help your neighbor without thinking twice. You actually know your neighbor. You let pedestrians cross the street. You say hi to every.single.person. whether you know them or not because it’s polite and who just ducks their head and avoid eye contact?!
Moral of the story - we are greater as a whole than as collective individuals. We can move mountains together. We AREN’T each other’s competition because we’re all going to win together.
FOUR - They have so much respect for nature, their land, animals, their history and culture. They stand for something.
On a trek through the jungle we completely stopped our tour to pick up one single piece of trash floating down a stream. Could you imagine what our cities, beaches and oceans would look like if we all stopped just once a day to pick up a rouge piece of trash?!
In the past years I made the decision to start living by my conscience. What I eat, what companies I purchase products from you, what companies we support and invest in, and overall how our lifestyle affects the world around us. Eat a predominantly plant based diet. Drive electric.
When you’re staring out at the ocean you realize the vastness of this planet. It’s huge and complex, but also delicate and limited. This generation (YOU, reading this) has a HUGE responsibility to keep it healthy. Every lit bit helps.
Find what you’re comfortable doing. That’s your part. It doesn’t need to be bigger or more substantial than your neighbors. It just needs to be.
I’m thrilled to be back home, back with my clients (and dog!) and feeling very refreshed to tackle some very big projects in the rest of 2019 and beyond. But I’m also taking a piece of the island home with, long past the tan fading, to live more purposefully and consciously.
Until next time fam,