This weekend I’m hanging out on Harbour Island in the Bahamas as the guest of Bahamas Tourism, a perfect corner of paradise if there ever was one. I’ve been doing a lot of non-beach travel lately, in fact it’s been a year since I’ve felt the sand between my toes and I’ve been reminded of what makes the simple joy of a beach such a great thing to experience.
I tend to over-think things and travel is not immune from this character flaw. I’ve wondered many times what makes a place appeal to so many people, in other words what makes paradise PARADISE.
Travel is subjective, it really comes down to your personality and personal likes/dislikes. What seems to be immune from this is the concept of a beach paradise. There exists in our societal consciousness a very concrete expectation of what paradise looks like and it’s a place we all want to visit. Sure, I may like Paris and other people may hate it but show a picture of bungalows over the water in Fiji and everyone’s jaw drops and our hearts start to race. So what is it exactly that makes a beach paradise so very appealing?
I only arrived in the Bahamas yesterday but already I’m enjoying the peaceful feeling of not being as connected. I realize the irony in this as I’m publishing this post from a supposed state of non-connectivity, but it is true when I say that I have not been as connected here and I love it. I’m not sure I’m the type of person who can completely disconnect anyway, I’m just too worried about missing emails and something important falling through the cracks. But I do love not being permanently tethered to my iPhone, waiting for that email ding that now elicits Pavlovian feelings of dread. The Bahamas isn’t very far away from home, it’s pretty easy to get to actually, but I instantly felt calmer and more relaxed than I ever am at home and I love it.
Palm trees are happy trees
Maybe it’s a form of societal mind-control, but just seeing sand and a palm tree makes people happy and more relaxed. When we see these images we have been conditioned to expect what comes next, playing in the pool, sunbathing and not doing much at all. I’m a big fan of palm trees and no matter where I am when I see them they always put a smile on my face. Go ahead, try it, it is impossible to look at a palm tree without being happy.
We NEED paradise to exist
Life in modern day America is chaotic at best. No, it’s not a Bangkok-like chaos, but it is maddening all the same. The near constant demands of work and family drive us all nuts and a 24-hour news cycle has created constant attacks by journalists warning us of everything from fiscal cliffs to tsunamis. It’s a lot to take and our senses can’t handle the constant barrage. The result is that we as a society are tired, cranky and in constant need of a vacation. That’s where little spots of paradise like the Bahamas come into play. We need places like this to exist not just in reality but in concept as well. We need the promise, the daydream of retreating to a secluded beach to help us get through the daily demands of life. This is true whether you’re a waiter or the President of the United States. (Notice that President Obama vacations in the very beachy Hawaii) Even better is when we get to experience paradise for ourselves whether it’s every year or every five years; it’s a recharge that our internal batteries need desperately.
And that’s what I’m doing this weekend, I’m recharging. I’ve been far too stressed lately about everything you can imagine and I’m tired of it. I’m tired of worrying about money, my health and everyone else’s expectations. I’m tired of being tired and am thankful that I can recharge my own batteries on these beautiful beaches here in the Bahamas. And that, more than anything is the simple joy of a great beach.