24 Hours In Belize Convinced Me To Leave The United States
A taste of a slower pace was all I needed to jump off of the work, work, work bandwagon.
I had been in Placencia, Belize for a little more than one day. It was already 8:44 p.m. on the East Coast of the United States. Logically I knew this was because I was 2 hours behind Eastern Standard Time. However, it seemed like it was 8:44 pm in the U.S. because time is always rushing ahead of us in the States, gone before we can grasp a sliver for ourselves.
I was barely been on my computer since our plane touched down, setting my automatic email reply to “I’ll be unavailable until June 26th, and will reply to you at my earliest convenience.” It was the first time in my life I had made myself unavailable to the demands of a capitalist, working world.
No matter how far I’ve been away from home, I’ve almost always had a phone or computer in reach, compulsively bound to the emails shooting into my inbox. People needed me, I would think, my hands already reaching to furiously type responses to emails before my brain had a say. A twisted game of whack-a-mole, as soon as one email was answered, another would pop up.
Years of my life have been spent as a little work robot, shaped by the hands of American society. No amount of yoga or meditation has cured me of this, although mindfulness of my habits has helped.
There was something indescribably therapeutic about landing on soil that doesn’t belong to the richest, greediest nation in the world. Among people that were noticeably more relaxed, I no longer felt the need to prove my worth to anyone or measure my value by how much I did.
It was freeing to realize no one cared if I was in med school or law school, or god forbid, not in school at all. No one cared to analyze if what I do pays well. I even typed slower in Belize, less rushed to get out my next bit of content.
I was happy to just be myself, connected to what matters to me. Just being is something I find hard to prioritize in the United States. To be fair, I’m not on vacation at home, but most mornings I wake up and let the pressure to get something done today overtake any desire to sit and meditate as a way to begin my day. I’m ruled by the rhythms of materialistic life instead of the rhythms of the Earth and of my own biological clock.
For this reason alone, I think it’s inevitable I’ll end up spending a part of my life living outside of the United States. Standby to see if this turns out to be true.
It provides perspective to not be surrounded by people that are always on the move. Whether we want to acknowledge this or not, we are always springing into the future in the United States.
This may not be true to you as an individual, but as a society it cannot be denied we live in the future. The news cycle is always spitting the next horrible report at us, the iPhone 1000 is about to come out, and most of us don’t experience life without instant gratification and a slew of entertainment options at our fingertips.
Frankly, it’s overwhelming.
I only get one life, and do I really want to spend it waiting in line to buy the iPhone 5000x?
The term “ a simpler life” often calls to mind the image of living in harmony with the Earth and spending less time in a society based on the consumption of goods beyond what we need to live. In my opinion, a “simpler life” is a better life than the one most of us are used to living, a life that prioritizes being rather than doing.
Changing location is by no means a recipe for instant happiness. If our external environment could help contribute to a more easeful way of being in our hearts and minds, would it be so wrong to make a change?
In the spirit of finding a little bit of the slower lifestyle I felt in Belize, I’ll leave you with this poem that’s been sitting in my archives.
Dreams and Demons
I chased my dream until it was what was chasing me
My dreams had become my demons
And I had barely survived the uprising
Now my demons are my dreams
I am building my reality anew
NC-based writer, yoga teacher and human being. I write about personal growth, success and change, among other things.