01 Dec 2015

Slow Ride To Nantucket

For some reason every single time I’m on the Steamship car ferry leaving Nantucket, the 1975 Foghat hit “Slow Ride” starts playing in my head. We ever so slowly make our way out of the harbor, then out into the channel for the long journey to the other side. Some people call this the slow boat to China. Nantucket locals call it the slow boat to America. It doesn’t really matter how you slice it – that boat is s-l-o-w.
For years, when we were just seasonal residents, my family would always do our best to race against the clock to make it to Hyannis in time for whichever fast boat was leaving next. There was no time to waste sitting on that big slow boat for two plus hours. We had things to do, groceries to buy, friends to visit. We needed to get to Nantucket fast…so we could hurry up and race through our to-do list and then hurry some more to get through all the activities on our Nantucket wish list. It’s funny how time and island life change your perspective on the important difference between the destination and the journey.
As we all watched in horror as the attacks on Paris unfolded a couple weeks ago, I was reminded of one of my favorite things about a recent trip to the beloved city. Parisians have perfected the fine art of enjoying the journey. They don’t eat – they dine. Lunches and dinners can literally take hours. It drove my father in law crazy as he was constantly on a mission to get to the next tourist site and he hated wasting time stopping for nourishment. As each of us slowly came to understand the inherent value of savoring the intrinsic parts of the meal – our time together, our conversation, the laughter – we settled in and embraced the opportunity to spend long leisurely afternoons at outdoor cafes sipping rose and sampling foie gras. Today, the best memories of the trip are those moments.
The slow boat to the island…and Nantucket in general…offer exactly the same opportunities as dining in France. If we let ourselves, we have the chance to slow down. While on the slow ferry, we can meet some new people or catch up with friends or neighbors. We can chat with our spouse or kids, sit on the deck of the boat and watch the island disappear in the distance (or reappear depending on which direction you’re heading!) If you’re already on the island, you can sit on your own back porch…with a glass of lemonade and no electronic devises and listen to the birds or just inhale the island air. Life goes fast enough without our help – there certainly is no reason to intentionally put it in fast motion.
As the holiday season approaches, why not make plans to take some lessons from the French folks and slow down life just a bit. Spend some time on Nantucket people watching on Main Street. Stop by the Atheneum and pick up a good book, then pull up a park bench outside and read a few chapters. Invite some friends over for a four hour holiday dinner party with no agenda other than breaking bread and great conversation. Or, go really crazy and book yourself on the slow boat…for the sole purpose of enjoying the journey.
Take it easy.
Shellie Dunlap
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