Since I am currently on vacation for a week, I began mulling over this topic obsessively because I really didn’t have any plans for the period that I was out. The biggest problem is that I felt guilty if I didn’t return with some sort of evidence of a tan or some photographs as proof that I had a great time. The truth is, I am having a great time…only not in the traditional sense of the word. My favorite way to celebrate my short vacation these days doesn’t involve cramming as much sight-seeing or laundry lists of things I need to do. My idea of vacation now involves foreign concepts like: rest, relaxation, doing absolutely nothing. The reason I say that these are foreign concepts is that Americans have a tendency to be doers (even when they should be enjoying the fruits of their labor). We consistently need to fight the urge to do throughout the vacationing period. How could we possibly be satisfied just doing nothing? How could staying at home be considered a vacation? Shouldn’t we be racing somewhere with an agenda or at the very least, an itinerary?
Doing nothing. Sitting or sleeping or enjoying a good book. The first couple of days, I looked for things to do to fill the hours. I gave into the temptation to log onto my computer to email, blog, reconnect with former classmates. Then, I stopped. I realized that this was my time and that out of all of the things I chose to do, I was still plugged into the workaday world. I was not engaging in the fine art of sitting still, but I was actively sabotaging the entire idea of vacation.
It Wasn’t Always Like This:
When I was a little girl, my father would take all of us on vacations that consisted of easy living. We’d be encouraged to go exploring at the lakes, barbecuing in the backyard, and swimming in the pool. I remember that I often felt annoyed at my Dad’s lack of interest in anything that involved work at all. The menial tasks of fetching soda and handing out the condiments suddenly became mine and my sister’s. I didn’t get it then. How could anybody have fun just watching non-stop Mets baseball on television? How could it be fun to just lay out in a backyard? Fun was relative. It didn’t matter if we physically went somewhere, it was going to be a good time because we had each other. It was a simpler time where the term vacation often meant sitting in someone’s backyard with a really great spinach dip and chips.
How have we as a culture been led astray? When did it become unfashionable to tune out or to take long strolls or to just chill out?
When the week is over, I plan on returning refreshed and ready to be productive. I may not have a tan, but at least I won’t have cancer. And that’s a good thing.