It was halfway across the channel, surrounded by fog so thick you could taste it, that I realized I had forgotten my iPhone. Not just my phone, but also my lifeline, my tickets for the rest of my journey, the contacts for my meetings, my schedule, my notes, my connection to the world. The ferry continued to slowly make its way across the currents, blasting its fog horn every few minutes in fear of meeting a small craft having lost its way with no radar. I dug through my bags in hopes that sinking feeling in my belly was wrong. My instinct was right and my lifeline to the real world was left behind on the island. My AppleWatch tapped my wrist and prompted me to “Breathe.” This made me slightly chuckle, as perhaps it was just the cue I needed in that moment. Panic would get me nowhere.
Just the night before we had laughed about how none of knew each others numbers because they were programmed into our phones. Having come to the island since childhood, long before the cellphone, I knew the house landline number. I also knew that nobody ever answered it anymore, as it was mostly robocalls trying to sell something to "the man of the house" (talk about dated marketing). I did finally get through, realizing that I could text Mum from my computer if I found a hotspot on the mainland. Thank goodness for continuity between devices. In the end the fog did lift. She was able to deliver my phone to my cousin who brought it over with his boat. My hero, having been lost in the fog while fishing earlier in the morning, wisely waited until the passage was good and clear (so at least we didn’t lose him too!)
Working from a remote island in Summer is a delight and luxury. I love immersing myself in extended family, appreciating their quirks and our shared history. I both love and hate the moments when I have to tuck away to take a call, write a proposal or generally have to shift back to work-mode. It is gratifying to get things done. Nevertheless, I fear I might miss out that special moment that will become someone’s "rose or thorn” at the dinner table when the round of sharing the days adventures begins. Leaving for a week of meetings now, is definitely my “thorn” of the week. Yet, I am excited to re-immerse myself momentarily in the world of buzz and boom.
I have spent many a Summer balancing these two worlds. Despite our rustic surroundings connectivity enables us to get the most critical work things done without leaving. Going to the mainland is always a bit of a shock. First the watch returns to the wrist. With only two daily ferries, time is of the essence. Next, brush the beach hair out and put on fresh clean clothes (not just shaking the sand out of something that still smells fine and has no stains). Finding just the right transitional outfit sometimes fails me. Friends have been known to say, "you must be coming from the island.” This is their (not so) subtle way of saying, "maybe you should have let the pigtails out and put on something more appropriate." My family has a habit of extending the life of things with epoxy and duct tape or making things fit with a little webbing and twine, and these sneak their way into wardrobe fairly regularly. My favorite straw hat being a prime example where the rusted broken frame of the brim has several strategic placed silvery bits of duct tape. On the island the bits are appreciated with pride for the thriftiness and ingenuity, but elsewhere might look as if I rescued it from a trash heap.
The fog has lifted. I have my phone and lifeline in my bag. I am dressed in business casual (thank goodness this weeks meeting don’t require a suit) with flip flops (the final switch upon arrival). I am alone in a bus full of passengers headed to the airport, all in their own transitions to or from another state of mind. As I write, I feel a sense of peace and wonderment at the dichotomy and perspective it provides. I am grateful for the innovations that enable me to create work around my life rather than the other way around. Tonight I will be on another coast in another time zone networking with my professional peers ready to get busy. I am once again thankful for the reminder to “Breathe” as the fog lifts.