Come to just about any island near the tropics and you will find life runs at a much slower pace than what you may be used to, especially if you come from some big city up north. Traffic moves slower, people walk at a much more relaxed pace, and there doesn’t seem to be any general reason for anyone to be in a hurry about anything in particular. One reason things do move more slower is the weather. Spend a few minutes doing some sort of manual labor or just try to walk when it’s over 90 degrees, 100% humidity, and you will slow down real fast. Another is simply because on a tropical island, it’s serene, peaceful, and the scenery is very calming, for the most part anyways, except when naked people in body paint are dancing up and down Duval St. Nonetheless, life moves slower on these rocks.
For a lot of visitors, the slower pace of said life drives them crazy. They are so used to living in a stressful environment with horrendous traffic, noise, and crappy jobs which suck the very will to live out of their souls, when they find themselves someplace where none of said stress exists, they cannot handle it. Where are the conflicts, the deadlines, the need to get things done right this very minute? They look upon island residents as being lazy and unambitious. To which we who live on said islands, say, “Thanks for noticing!”.
I’ve seen more than a few people come to the islands thinking they will change things. “These dumb drunks who hang out in bars all day, play on the water all the time, and don’t seem to care about shit will learn a thing or two when I am done with them, by golly,”, they think to themselves. And usually within a year, sometimes sooner, you can find them sitting in said bar, or floating on an inner tube at the local sandbar, soaking in the sun, wondering what all the fuss was about up north.
Corporate warlords have the same attitude. They open up a store/resort/outlet/franchise in Key West or Maui and demand the worker bees operate from the same employee manual as those who work in the cold, wintry north. They make said worker bees wear the same uniforms, usually dark in color and heavy in material, thinking the hot and humid weather is not going to be a problem. They find out soon enough when employee turnover exceeds customer turnover.
Nope, if you are coming to the Keys or Hawaii, you better be prepared for a way more better and slower lifestyle than what you may have back home. You can’t change it, it cannot be reasoned with, and it will never, ever give up until you become just another lazy beach bum hanging out in bars or on the beach. Just shitcan the 3 piece suit, grab a fishing shirt, some shorts, and sandals, and be done with it.
There are actually names for the lifestyles of these two islands, which you will no doubt hear of rather quickly upon your arrival.
In the Keys, and in particular Key West, the island attitude is called, Keys Disease. It’s symptoms include apathy, laziness, no ambition, no stress, a willingness to only do enough work to get by, and sometimes not even then, a total disregard for one’s appearance, and a good appreciation of all things which have some combination of rum/shrimp/Key Lime Pie/and a boat in them. Everyone in the Keys gets Keys Disease. I have it. Come to the Keys and you will too. It comes on fast and without warning. One minute you are running around in a big hurry, the next your fat hyper ass is parked under a beach umbrella nursing a rum runner. There is no cure nor is one sought after. It drives employers and landlords crazy, as evidenced by all the ads which carry the disclaimer, “No Keys Disease”. It’s one of the best diseases to have and I am proud to be a carrier. I even included a detailed description in my any-excuse-to-plug-my-ebooks-in-a-post-because-I-could-really-use-a-few-more-sales.
Keys Disease can actually be profitable, if one has the talents to do so. Don’t believe me? Ask this guy how profitable it can be:
Make no mistake. Keys disease is real. As real as a purring sea serpent in love with a cat. Doubt me? Come to the Keys and find out for yourself, if you dare.
In Hawaii, things are every bit as laid back, except for Honolulu from what I hear, but life here has a different name. It’s called, ‘Practice Aloha”. Rather than use my limited skills with all this writin’ let me plug another book and quote the author direct. The book is, Practice Aloha by Barbra Santos, and she says,
“The people who ‘practice Aloha’ offer whatever they can—help, appreciation, expertise, or time—with no expectations. They do it as effortlessly as breathing and they keep doing it because it just feels so good to do the right thing.”
You’ll get a feel for the Practice Aloha almost immediately when you arrive on the islands. People are polite, friendly, always seem to eager to help one another, and show little or no anger to their fellow man. A pretty good concept when you consider how badly explorers, missionary’s, and entrepreneur’s destroyed these islands after their discovery by one Captain Cook. A rant for a future post.
Anyways, the people here while they do move at a slower pace, don’t seem to stress about anything major. The atmosphere, influenced by the fantastic weather, gorgeous scenery, and the remoteness of the islands, has taught everyone it’s more better to get along and cooperate for the good of the islands, as opposed to fighting and arguing all the time.
I see very little evidence of stress and anger out here, and when I do, it’s usually from a transplant, an urban outdoorsman, or tourist who can’t seem to relax no matter what. The people I have encountered, locals, natives, and those who have lived here for awhile, seem genuinely friendly, polite, and happy. Not the fake happy you see at someplace like the rat parks in Orlando. But genuinely friendly. So it pays to be friendly, polite, and happy right back, which I do. Unlike Florida and the mainland, virtually every place I have been, be it a store, bank, or government office, the people there were friendly and eager to help, even at the DMV. It’s been a most refreshing change of pace after years back east.
Again, Keys Disease and Practice Aloha are real state of minds. They exist and are practiced on these islands everyday. If you are coming to the Keys or Hawaii, be prepared to accept these concepts and learn quick as you can to live your time on said islands at a more slower pace than what you may be used too. All those vitally important things back up north or wherever you come from, don’t mean a Norwegian rodents posterior in the islands. Stress is at extremely low levels in these parts. Deadlines are meaningless. The corporate world has no place here. But beware.
Once you have accepted the island way of life, be it in the Keys or Hawaii, it’s permanent. Should you return back north from whence you came, you will be an outcast, looked down upon, and considered unworthy for their way or life. Just turn around and return to the islands. You’ll feel way more better when you do. Remember, when it comes to Keys Disease and Practice Aloha, there is no cure and you will not seek one. Just accept it and enjoy.