I was away last week and, for the first time in probably ten years, didn’t check my emails or even sit at a computer for seven WHOLE days! And did it matter? Not one little bit. There were nearly 200 emails in my in-box when I got home, but only about 20 of them needed a reply. The others were all newsletters, special offers and circulars. So the first thing I did on my return was to unsubscribe from all the email clutter than I never get around to reading.
How often do we give ourselves the space and peace to switch off both mind and body? Not often. There’s always something or someone making demands on our time and attention. I was incredibly fortunate to have time out with my friends Sue and Bruce in the Mid North Coast area of NSW. They live up a bumpy track just outside Grassy Heads surrounded by the cacophony of nature – cicadas (in particular the bladder cicada, so called because of its large and hollow abdomen which acts as an echo chamber for its call), tree and other frogs, birds, wind rustling in the tree tops and occasional clashes and flashes of thunder and lightning.
Here is a short clip of how a bladder cicada sounds:
I savoured the time and spaciousness of having nothing on the to-do list – no goals, no must-sees or must-dos. And not having to rush around to fit everything in. Early to bed at night and up early each morning, I enjoyed beautiful food with veggies from the garden – kale, silver beet, rocket, lettuce, squash and zucchini – and felt nourished from the inside out. As well as reading, I did Laughter Yoga in the ocean with Sue, a bit of Chinese tapping therapy, a few walks, a bit of yoga and had a massage and Reiki treatment. I met new friends over cups of tea or something stronger, and spent a lovely afternoon in Port Macquarie where I considered becoming a supporter of the wonderful Koala Hospital.
Regular readers might remember I alluded in a previous post to Botox being used to mitigate jaw clenching (bruxism). Well, before I went away I followed up on a lead and exchanged emails with an “Aesthetic Business Coach and Cosmetic Injector.” He offered me a free treatment in exchange for writing an article, but somehow it felt like a slippery and potentially costly slope. I knew that it wouldn’t stop at my jaw; he would recommend other areas of my face in need of rejuvenation or his specially formulated skin care range.
Then flying back from Coffs Harbour I noticed an advert in the in-flight magazine for a plastic surgeon, who was quoted as saying: “I am a big believer in really listening to my patients to determine what will make them happy.” Really?! Can nips, tucks, lifts, prolongers and enhancers make us happy? What about the woman or man who has a sculpted face, dyed hair, plumped up lips, gym-toned body and whitened teeth but is professionally or personally unfulfilled? The ad listed an intriguing menu including all sorts of lifts – from breast to brows and the mind-boggling Brazilian Butt Lift.
One of the books I read while I was away was Daniel Klein’s Travels with Epicurus. In his 70s and faced with spending vast amounts of time and money on dental implants, Klein instead decides to spend a year on the Greek Island of Hydra. Armed with the works of some of his favourite philosophers, he muses on how to live an authentic and fulfilled old age. Distinguishing himself from some of his contemporaries, the ‘forever young crowd’, who are doing everything medically, physically and cosmetically possible to halt the inevitable pull of time and gravity, Klein writes amusingly of the pleasures of old age and quotes Epicurus: “It is not the young man who should be considered fortunate, but the old man who has lived well. The young man in his prime wanders much by chance, vacillating in his beliefs, while the old man is docked in the harbour, having safeguarded his true happiness.”
For me, part of living well is nourishing our inner – rather than our outer – selves, whether it’s through nature, exercise, friendships, good diet, holidays, reading, meditating, doing yoga or planting out veggies. You could say that inner peace and contentedness reach the parts that Botox never will.