Tuesday, March 8, 2011

To each their own

The phrase "To each his own" refers to one having a right to personal preferences. This phrase has been credited to Shakespeare, Cicero, a Portuguese saying and versions of this maxim appeared in the late 1500's. But the modern wording was first recorded in 1713.

So, it is not necessary to know just who originated the saying, just to know what it means. Take my recent Blog on "A Desert Paradise." I had a hard time adjusting to the bleakness and brownness of Arizona. I love color, especially blue, and to find myself in a land of monotones and drab coloring was an awakening.

Recently a friend was asked by a visitor to the island why he decided to live here. The friend replied "Look around!" The visitor did so and had to agree it was a foolish question. The beauty of the island, its plants, its colors, its abundant natural state all speak volumes. It is said "Nature herself makes the wise man rich." Well, either wise or ignorant, rich or poor, Nature in any form is beauty to the beholder. Whether it be the scenery, the flora or fauna, I personally feel that nothing can outshine Nature.

That is why on my most recent trip to the U.S. towards the end of my travels, I found that I was becoming anxious and restless. Yes, there is a lot to see in the States. There is beauty in the scenery when one explores the out-of-doors. But I have come to feel uncomfortable in the big cities. The tightly packed buildings, the miles and miles of roadways, the thousands of cars with thousands of people traveling at every hour of the day and night, the artificial entertainment centers which try to mimic Nature, the Giant Malls, the strip malls, the businesses all crowding one on top of another try to sell you their product. Nature is taking a back seat in the States and people are not able to stop and admire the beauty of millions of stars in the sky, a beautiful sunrise or sunset, a waning or waxing of the moon, the activities of Nature's creatures nor the beauty in a single flower. They rush to and fro with schedules and appointment to keep. They wake up to horns honking, TVs blaring, sirens screaming, helicopters flying over head, garbage trucks making their rounds; an endless amount of noise, none of which is natural and quite unpleasant to the ears.

When I lived in the States I, too, was rushing around, working long hours, being exposed to the pressure of working and living in a modern society but I did not have time for myself. I had a job to do, a home to keep up, children to raise, meals to prepare, bills to pay, and on and on and on. The only time I got to enjoy Nature was a 2 week vacation once a year and maybe a Sunday afternoon (Saturdays were devoted to cleaning, laundry and shopping) of leisure, mostly spent at home.

So, once I retired and moved to Guanaja and after all the hurry and scurry of building a home, I was able to finally observe and enjoy Nature and its wonders. The island has opened me up to its beauty but, like all things, I began to take it for granted. That is until my last trip to the States.

I went for the sole purpose to visit family and friends I had not seen in many, many years. I was able to do this along with obtaining items to send back to the island to make life more comfortable or to, at least, allow my husband and I to live with the necessities of life.

I had a great time and my family and friends were wonderfully accommodating. I enjoyed a Art Festival, a play, some shopping, traveling, visits to beautiful spots created by Nature. I ate at wonderful restaurants and enjoyed meals cooked by family and friends. All in all, I could not have asked for a better trip.

However, I also was also exposed to the every day pressure of just living there. Besides the hustle and bustle of people on the roads, in the stores and the miles and miles of traffic and row upon row of buildings, I found the least tolerable thing was the stress of decisions and advertising!

On the island, as I have stated before, we have a limited number of items to chose from. When we buy a shampoo, for example, we have 3 types of usually one brand: Normal, Oily and Dry. Problem solved. Yes, at times it can be frustrating when we have grown accustomed to one particular brand which one feels is the ultimate product for one's hair. To have one brand and only 3 choices, brings a reality that all those choices are not essential to a happy life! My hair is fine, it is no worse off than when I lived in the States and the stress of choosing among a whole aisle of shampoos has been removed. People can live without the things they THINK are so important. I talked with a gentleman while in the States who "could not live without TV and football games." I looked at him and said "yes you can." He was adamant, however, and insisted that his life would be nothing without those TV games! People get so wrapped up in "things" and having what they feel is absolutely necessary, that they forget that years ago (and I mean when I was young) people managed to live without computers, cell phones, air conditioners, 17 pairs of shoes, fast food restaurants and TV. Yes, even with the advent of TV I, as a child, was limited to about 3 programs a week. We played outside, invented our own games and fun and did not look to our parents or devices to entertain us.

The next thing that really got to me was the amount of advertising one is exposed to in the U.S. and, for that fact, quite possibly in all advanced countries. You are bombarded on the radio with ads, on the highways with bulletin boards, on the TV with more ads. As a matter of fact, I feel there are more ads than actual programming.

When one goes to a store you cannot even pay for your purchase without being exposed to 20 Questions! What is your phone number, have you found everything you wanted, do you have our Store Credit Card, would you like to apply for a credit card, do you want to keep the hangers, did you see our special on .......? I remember when I went into a store, found what I was looking for, went to the clerk, paid for it, received it in a bag and was out the door. I went to a liquor store to buy some wine while in the States. As I checked out the girl asked to see identification. Now, one can tell by looking at me that I am over 18 (yes, I know that is hard to comprehend) and I asked her "If I didn't have a driver's license, what would you do?" She replied without hesitating, "I would not sell you the liquor." So, if one wants certain items you must have I.D. (preferably a Driver's License in Florida) to prove your age. Does this mean people who don't drive should carry a copy of their birth certificate? Again, I understand the law and that no one under the age of 18 can buy liquor and that clerks, in the past could use common sense. But, does this mean that clerks are no longer trusted to use common sense?

Even on the airplane and in the airport, one is bombarded with decisions. What do you want to drink? Do you want to buy a snack? We do not take cash, do you have a credit card? Since 9/11, the airlines found a way to save money by no longer serving meals. For a while they served a free snack and a soft drink and you could still get an alcoholic beverage for free. Now, there is no snack, no free alcoholic beverage, food is only served in First Class (I guess they can be trusted with a fork and knife and not the riff-raff in the back of the plane) and never, never try to go to the bathroom in the First Class section if you are not seated there!

So, it was with mixed feelings that I left my friends. I did not miss leaving the cities, the traffic, the fast food restaurants, the pollution, the crowds. I will miss my family and friends but I will also feel a little sorry for them as I have returned to my Paradise and the sweet sound of nothing! I am sure they love where they live and enjoy their lives as they are ........

So - to each their own!


  1. Great post, Sharon! And I totally agree. Modern society has all kinds of "conveniences" which we get so used to that we think we can't live without them. And yeah, you're right about the constant bombardment of advertising: It makes you weary after a while. I love the fact that big arenas aren't named after honored people anymore. Like the Brendan Byrne Area in New Jersey, named for a former governor who helped bring professional hockey to the state. It is now the "IZOD CENTER." Everything has to have a corporate "brand" on it, you see.

    I've groused before about the Sears Tower in Chicago (commissioned and built by the Sears company) and how it is now officially the "Willis Tower," named for the British insurance group that leases a small portion of it but somehow obtained the right to name the iconic building after themselves.

    We do get accustomed to the hustle and bustle of our lives - we consider it "normal." And it may be normal, but it's not really natural. Or sane.

    Guanaja offers a welcome refuge from all this craziness. But I'll tell ya, it's a hard adjustment for someone who is used to civilization as we've come to know it. Maybe we all get there eventually - get to a point where we just can't take "this" anymore. And maybe someday I'll show up there again...on a sailboat this time...with few clothes and fewer possessions to my name other than a guitar strapped across my back. A guitar I cannot yet play.

    Meantime, I'll slog along up here, thinking enviously of my friends down in their island paradise.

    (Oh, you left out one thing. You do have a lot of bars to choose from. So there is that.)

    (Oh, and go easy on the complaints about helicopter noise, okay? ;)

  2. I love your blog and pics and look forward to it always. Congrats. I
    live in roatan and headed to the U.S today and I always get very
    aggitated and nervous when i am there. Overload on all senses.

  3. Great post. We lived here in our Ozark paradise for 5 years in the slow lane. No more.
    Life is full of seasons. All have their purpose. I'm definitely in my busy season, but know that there is a slow season to come again.

  4. It is always such a pleasure reading your blog... You should write a
    book... See you soon ... Jim from vermont

  5. As a cashier at Target, I always have to ask people for ID before they buy liquor, cough syrup, or nicotine gum.
    It does not matter if you are 21 years old or 70 years old, I am literally *not able* to continue with the transaction until I swipe or scan the back of your ID.
    They know you're over 21, and they're probably embarrassed asking you for the ID.
    Common sense would tell you that it's an issue with the computer/register rather than the cashier!
    All the time I get elderly people flattering themselves or even bickering about showing ID. lol