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Tanzanian Turtle Time

A little over a month ago I set my computer to say the following,

“Sometimes when you work for yourself it’s really tough to take a break, let alone be totally ‘disconnected’ from technology! So I’m trying it. A full 10 day break outside of the country with no laptop! So if you’re enquiring to Morning Star, I will pick up your mail on my phone, but give me more than the usual 24 hrs. And for the rest, just grant me some grace to take an email detox, and I’ll be back on the 16th.”

So ironically subsequent to setting the out of office notification, I learnt that one cannot shut down Outlook and expect the out of office to operate, or so I believe? So very few actually received my notification…which got me thinking. Admittedly I responded by phone to my BnB queries. I believe those are time sensitive and I think I would have lost out on those bookings. But in 10 days I did not respond to work email, and the world did not end! Of course I am not that important, and many of my clients did know I was on leave, but at the rate I check email, the lesson for me is that I can adopt far greater intervals between checking mail than what I thought?

The second realisation was the relief that I actually could manage without a laptop at the end of my finger tips. In fact we managed without a television or any other device, bar our cell phones, to which we could only connect in our Air Bnb in any event.

Wherever you go in Zanzibar, people urge you in Swahili to go, ‘pole pole’ (pronounced polay polay), which means slowly, slowly.

They greeted my son with that expression when he discovered that he’d gone swimming with turtles with his cell phone (one less device!) And it’s a refrain I’ve brought back with me, signified by the image of the turtle, which abounds in the local curio shops.

And it’s one of my sweetest memories of diving the Tanzanian reef; a mommy turtle resting peacefully between the rocks. And whenever South African pace kicks in back in, or the waves of overwhelm start to break, I remember the resting turtle and the reminder to go ‘pole pole’.


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