iCommuting and the Island Mind

iCommuting and the Island Mind

A few blogs ago we wrote about something we called the “Island Mind.” It’s hard to define, exactly, but you sense it when you visit Whidbey Island. People are unhurried. Serene. Not easily stirred to vexation.

We go for months without hearing anyone honk a horn.

We don’t put on airs or bother with pretentious and uncomfortable big-city work attire. We see a stranger striding purposefully along a downtown Langley sidewalk in suit and tie, we furrow brows and wonder: “Who is this and what does he want with us?”

It’s an attractive life here, lower in pressure and thus less likely to end prematurely because of excessive stress. But some people legitimately ask: How do I make a living on Whidbey Island? There aren’t a lot of high-paying businesses and industries.

Well, people reinvent themselves. A former electrical engineer, for example, became a custom furniture designer and builder.

Others engage in what we’ll call iCommuting. (“Telecommuting” now sounds almost quaint, bearing the ancient whiff of phone lines and fax machines.)

A lawyer for a multinational electronics manufacturer works from her South Whidbey home, wrangling multimillion-dollar contracts by phone and email. Once a month she flies off to some distant city, and while it’s two hours each way to SeaTac, our island is blessed with the most convenient airport shuttle imaginable. The shuttle is the least stressful component of the trip.

A refugee from the relentless pressures of big-business telecom marketing now works quietly, and far more happily, as a consultant designing internet strategies for small businesses. No structured office hours, no boss, no quarterly sales goals.

This is one of the most significant but quiet revolutions in our time: A lot of us are no longer tethered to the big cities with their high-paying, high-stress jobs coupled to expensive housing and miserable freeway commuting. We can live in a quiet place surrounded by natural beauty and work remotely. Usually with self-determined hours and lower house payments.

The job itself might still cause stress and grief. But in many Whidbey Island neighborhoods, our Highlands at Langley included, it takes just a few minutes to walk to the beach. Which reliably restores the Island Mind.

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