I’ve been back from my trip to Anguilla for just about a week now, and even though there’s 18 inches of snow outside my door, I’m still reveling in that sweet island bliss that AXA never fails to instill within me. I live in the DC metro area, and there’s no doubt that life is very different here than it would be on a Caribbean island. There are good and bad things about living anywhere, but I feel like a lot of what I thought was missing from my life here in the “big city” is alive and well in Anguilla, and just knowing that inspires me and brings me joy.
One of the things that has bothered me about living in a large metropolitan area is how impersonal life can be here. People avoid making eye contact with each other in public places, coworkers and neighbors seem unable or unwilling to exchange even simple greetings, and you can be completely ignored even if you’re holding a door open for someone. Many seem to have begun to favor interacting in more indirect ways such as meeting people online as opposed to in person, texting instead of talking, and doing everything from banking to buying groceries on the web so that contact with other humans is minimal. I feel like we’re losing our social skills and our ability to interact with other people that we don’t know and, increasingly, even with those that we do know.
In Anguilla, though, I get a whole different vibe. If you’re open to it, it isn’t unusual to be engaged into a friendly conversation just about anywhere you go on the island. It’s a place where I feel like every new person I meet has the potential to become a life-long friend because of the warmth and genuineness that is so common among Anguillians. I like seeing how two guys who are friends will often greet each other with fist-bumps even if no words are exchanged. I love how guys will greet their female friends with a handshake – not the formal lets-do-business kind, but the warmer gentleman-about-to-kiss-the-back-of-a-lady’s-hand-but-not-actually-kissing-it kind. If you’re lucky enough to build strong friendships in AXA, I think you’ll find that Anguillian hugs are among the best in the world. :)
I don’t want to give the impression that things like texting and online communications don’t exist in Anguilla, but they just don’t seem to have taken over there as much as they have at home. (Not yet, anyway…) It’s just a comfort to me to know that a place with such genuine warmth exists and it gives me hope that I can still find it even at home but it just may take a bit more effort to find it here.
Another thing about visiting Anguilla is that it always reminds me how to enjoy the simple things in life. It’s a place where I’ve found perfect happiness sitting under a coconut tree or at a beach bar, talking with friends about anything and nothing for hours at a time. It’s a place where my biggest laughs came while enjoying a delicious home-cooked meal with those that I consider to be my Anguillian family. It’s not that I can’t enjoy these same kinds of activities at home, but with all of the distractions that surround us here and everyone’s crazy-busy schedules, it’s easy to forget that these simple pleasures are possible.
My experiences of the “simple life” in AXA also make me realize how much stuff I own and that I really don’t need most of it to be happy. So, whenever I return from Anguilla, I’m always inspired to simplify my lifestyle more and more so that I can depend on fewer material items and superficial ideas to bring me happiness. Just identifying and getting rid of unnecessary “junk” in my life is therapeutic and liberating in so many ways.
Anguilla is an amazing place and my love for it grows every time I visit. I do know that I’m very lucky to live the life that I have and I don’t mean to sound unappreciative of what I’ve got. I know that if I should ever be so lucky as to move to a place like Anguilla, I’ll miss some of the things that I have access to now so I try not to take anything for granted. I like that Anguilla opens my mind and that it has taught me to see my life from a different perspective. The important thing, now, is to not allow myself to forget what I’ve learned because it’s easy to fall back into old bad habits in a world where simplicity is not the rule. If suppose that if I find myself beginning to forget, though, that’s a good reason to start planning my next trip to AXA! :)