This past year for my birthday in October, we went to one of my favorite places: the Pacific Northwest. My college roommate is from Tacoma, Washington, and over the years, I’ve made a handful of trips out there to the opposite end of the country to visit her and her family. I find the Seattle area to be one of the more relaxing metro areas of anywhere in the U.S., and the stunning natural landscapes surrounding the city are unmatched anywhere. It’s the place I like to go to slowdown.
On the morning of my birthday, we woke up in her “beach house” on Hood Canal, which is not exactly what you’d think of as a beach house say here in Florida, mainly because the views are much different, however, equally as beautiful. Out from her deck is a giant oyster bed on the banks of the canal. If oysters are your jam, this is your heaven.
If you time it right and the tide is low, you can walk pretty far out into the canal hunting for oysters to enjoy fresh from the water. That particular morning, we got up early, and my friend, boyfriend, and I went looking for breakfast.
I don’t eat slimy mollusks, but I was happy to partake in the activity. It was a relaxing and slow activity–the canal was slow; life was slow. We brought our catch inside and decided how to prepare them while I opened a bottle of Chateau Ste. Michelle Sauvignon Blanc (of course). We played music, shucked oysters, drank Washington state wine, and sat on the back porch watching a sea lion swim along, presumably out to Puget Sound, while they ate the freshly prepared meal, and I enjoyed the wine. I can’t say I could have asked for a better morning, ever, and I reveled in every single second of the slowness of it. It was simply perfection.
Sometimes, we need to slow down. We need to stop and shuck the oysters and think about nothing but how we are enjoying simply “being.” That morning on Hood Canal was part of a purposeful trip that we had planned together, and it was a beautiful reminder of the simple pleasures in life like food, wine, friends, and nature. Now, six months after that moment, we are in a very different kind of slowdown, one that is forced, and perhaps far from the places and people that we love. This kind of slowdown can be unexpected and jarring, a moment more negative than one we would have chosen.
There are memes and “gurus” out there who will say right now that if you don’t come out of this time of “quarantine” without a new hobby, language, or piece of masterful artwork, you’re somehow lazy and unmotivated, and this is such a dangerous way to think. Of course, it’s not a bad thing to accomplish goals you have set for yourself, and if that is what makes you happy, then by all means, I hope you learn that third language and write that novel! However, we shouldn’t be shaming others into using their slowdown in ways that they don’t choose. It’s bad enough already that we didn’t decide this time for ourselves. It was forced upon us all.
Just like that October morning in 2019 when I chose a slowdown to appreciate the things around me, maybe that is all we focus on today, and tomorrow until we get to a better place in our minds in order to move on to the next step. This may be a slowdown you didn’t choose, but what you can decide to do is just “be” and appreciate one thing each day around you. Maybe that’s all you accomplish today, but that is enough. Don’t let any meme tell you it isn’t.
Where is your ideal slowdown location?