We will not lie. At times, life on these rocks can be a bit challenging, causing us to reflect, perhaps wistfully, on the ease with which some things could be accomplished if only we lived elsewhere. We sigh and resign ourselves to the fact that we are on a remote island, this particular challenge is just one of the trade-offs, and no amount of wishing and hoping will remove our struggle. Though in spite of the limitations we face, there are also plenty of moments that outweigh the difficulties and remind us of how fortunate we are to call a rock, any rock, home.
During times of island strife, here are my Top Four Island Blessings that I always call to mind to bring forth a sense of gratitude:
1. The Weather
Without a doubt, one of the blessings we can be grateful for is island weather. There are many who have to save and scrimp for years to reward themselves with a few days in this sun we so often take for granted. We see them, chalky white and frostbitten, eyeing our year round tans and naturally dark skin with le le wata (drool) running down their chins. They scurry off the planes into the hotels and guest houses, emerging seconds later stripped down to the bare essentials, slathered in oil, ready to soak up every last drop before they have to head home again to their colder climates. So accustomed are we that we sometimes find ourselves wondering what all the excitement is about. Consistent warmth is a true gift.
2. The Food
When we look at the fauna on our rocks, especially the edible kind, we can’t help but be thankful, as those exotic items that would usually cost an arm and a leg to import can be found literally at our fingertips. Rock dwellers simply cannot starve. There is always something that can be picked and eaten and washed down with crystal punch (water). Mangoes, plantains, bananas, avocados, cherries, apples, and a variety of other fruits and vegetable form a part of the basic landscape for the average property. But even if our yards are not so blessed, our neighbors’ likely will be, which brings me to my next point…
3. The People
Hands down, island folk are the friendliest people you will ever find. For some, it may have even been a culture shock at first to not have people look through you, but to instead have someone smile and ask ,”How yuh do?” – and actually wait for a response. Everywhere you go, the greeting is the same. Maybe it’s the warm weather that makes everyone so pleasant. There is nothing that you need that someone is unwilling to provide. As the various fruit seasons come and go, one can rest assured that the fruits which bear in abundance will be shared and exchanged as the case may be. There is always a willingness to be of assistance, especially to those from overseas who may still be finding it a nit sticky to navigate life on the rocks.
4. Island Time
I know this one will be a bit hard to believe but trust me when I say: Island Time is also a blessing. Sometimes we complain bitterly about the slowness with which things are done on the rock. But guess what? I have found a diamond in that frustration. Life tends to be a bit fast-paced. It is so easy to become stressed as we keep going like the Energizer Bunny. But one day, that energy must fizzle out. It is a blessing to find yourself on a rock when that battery gives up the ghost, whether you believe it or not. We need to slow down, and life on a rock helps us to do just that. Initially, when we may have encountered the laid back manner in which natives operate on the rock, our frustration levels probably went through the roof after the first few times. But little by little, the nuances of island time kicked in. Although it sometimes messes things up that just need to get done RIGHT NOW, island time also forces us to slow down when we need it. Slowing down is something that we don’t do enough of. Life on the rock forces us to breathe; it forces us to stop and smell the roses; it forces us to relax because we have no other option while we wait. Island time, I find, can actually be quite therapeutic.
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These are just a few of our island blessings which we are likely all guilty of taking for granted at times. The next time you find yourself in your bikini rocking in a hammock or on a boat, or biting into a ripe Julie mango given to you by your neighbor, or relaxing at ten o’clock in the morning because you don’t have to get to the bank before twelve anyway, remember you’re blessed to not only be on this rock but to call this rock – idiosyncrasies and all – HOME.
One love from Jamaica.
What are some of the things you are most grateful for on your rock that you can take for granted at times?