With or without context, I have always found this to be great advice. I generally stay away from giving advice as I prefer to simply nudge the boat; so by advice I mean, “words you can keep in your back pocket”.
I don’t remember the name of the gentleman who first said this to me but I remember it was someone in a bike shop. I had just bought my road bike, a beautiful, yellow Giant. My roommates and I were starting to go on trips around San Francisco and Marin. What a wonderful place to have a bicycle and a few riding buddies. We would go up Arguello Avenue through the Presidio to the Golden Gate Bridge into the Marin Headlands or Sausalito, Tiburon, Muir Woods… I was telling this to a fellow enthusiast in a bike shop when I was picking up my bike from a tune-up; I was going on and on about the rides we wanted to do and how much faster we wanted to go and what I was going to do to upgrade my bicycle when I had the money. He looked at me with a soft grin and said, “that sounds great, but don’t forget to enjoy the view.”
Whoa. I got served in the best kind of way. Suffice it to say, a lot of things related to the bike world mattered less after that encounter. These words obviously don’t only apply to bicycling and that’s why they’ve stuck with me for so long.
That leads us to the fleshy part of the post; Amaia and I have been working quite hard lately on things for the company like the website, marketing campaigns and client hunting, as well as things that pay rent like translating, interpreting (only Amaia) and teaching English to Spaniards. We had spent what seemed like four score and seven years locked in the office, curtains drawn, translating with our fingers glued to our keyboards, eyes wearily fixed to the screen. We were wirelessly tethered to the cyberworld of our work, seldom leaving our chairs for more than a few minutes at a time before we gravitated back, front and center in the comfortable but deflating LCD luminescence of our portal to the false outside world.
OK. I might have gotten carried away a bit there but the point is we needed a day off real bad. So we took one, and it was glorious. We took last Tuesday off from work: no computers, emails or phone calls. We woke up late, had a leisurely breakfast, which seemed rather quiet since I had no tasks to vocalize, and set off. It had been decided that we were going to do a bit of directed wandering with our new camera to document our adventure.
After breakfast we headed over for coffee at one of our favorite spots, Café Cocó. There you actually get good espresso; it is unfortunate to report that finding good coffee on the islands is a difficult chore. Many people may think that coffee in Spain has to be good but, no, only in the north will you find consistently good coffee.
Coffee consumed and sun shining brightly, we made our way through Triana to the old part of the city, Vegueta. There we saw/heard/sensed no less than a million German and French tourists. On the inside I was mocking their stick-out-like-sore-thumb look when I caught my reflection in the window of a shop. I was not one to talk. I’ll just leave it at that.
Tired from taking tons of pictures and walking tourist slow, we both agreed that a nice, cold, pre-noon beer was in order. We found this nice little bar that had an interior patio. It looked like the perfect place to get away from groups of foreigners following an expert backwards walker holding an umbrella. When we got in it was empty and serene, one waitress was behind the bar polishing glasses. After about 3 minutes the first German couple came in, 5 minutes later two more German ladies came in. Then came a couple that can only be described as enigmatic. He was from the peninsula, she was from Anywhereville Central or South America but he was wearing something that you might find in Anywhereville Central or South America: baseball cap, neon green running shirt, brown Nadal-style pirate pants with a red stripe down the side and bright blue sneakers. Joé. However, since we were playing tourist I suppose it was fitting to be surrounded by them.
After our beer we headed to the beach where we were met by what else? Swaths of tourists. Deep breath. I mean, come on, February? Amaia was quick to remind me that the sign said it was was 32º C (89.6º F) and the poor, pale creatures of northern Europe come to escape the cold. For example that day it was probably 2º C (35.6º F) in Berlin, the capital of Poorpalecreatureville. I think the sign was embellishing a bit or perhaps it’s a marketing ploy by the Canarian government, either way it was a beautiful day.
The only hiccup during our day was the restaurant we wanted to go to, La Glorieta del Jamonal, was closed. ARGH! We ate at another place, La Marinera, and were underwhelmed. It’s right on the water and has amazing Gofio Escaldado but the rest of the food and experience was memorable in the bad kind of way.
After our sub-par lunch we took a stroll up through a neighborhood to which we had never been. Apparently La Isleta had a bum rap for being a rough part of town, but now it seems developed and charming. The walkway along the water is breathtaking and best of all, empty.
By that time we had walked a few miles over the course of the day, eaten and drank, sat down to absorb the world around us and immortalized the highlights with our photographs. The view we enjoyed was definitely eye pleasing since we are fortunate enough to live in such an enchanting place, however, what we accomplished during our day off was more than the sum of what we saw and consumed and experienced. A day that saw zero words typed, zero invoices sent and zero mobile minutes used was one of the most constructive days of 2011. It was the proverbial recharge. The decompress. The stop to smell the roses.
It’s hard to remember sometimes that we are not steam engines and work is not the only variable in the equation of life. Being balanced means more than just saying that you’re balanced. If you don’t work at balancing the elements that compose your life, you can easily find yourself locked in that office, curtains drawn, wan of face and void of verve. I’ll tell you right now, you don’t want that. So go ahead, open those curtains and enjoy the view.