Monday, August 3, 2015
A Third Phase Vacation Conundrum
So we conducted a bit of an experiment.
And we are back. We have been away, well not really away physically but mentally. We decided to take a vacation, or as folks like to say, a staycation because we checked out of normal routines but stayed put. That meant not writing for money, not attending to some of those weird household jobs that seem okay during the week but not on a day off or a week off. We`d leave the house for little excursions, we`d eat great food late at night, we`d sample local wines and beers and do things that had long been on our list that we'd never gotten around to.
And we thought about vacations and work life balances which gets really tricky if what you are really wrestling with is life-life balances. The big issues was why travel seems to be so much a part of how we think about vacations. We travel; we both love to travel. Sometimes travel is about work, an assignment, a research project. Sometimes travel is an adventure. Travel can be hard and arduous. Travel can be and often is mind and spirit expanding. So is all travel a vacation and does a vacation imply travel?
Vacations are conundrums. The reality is that taking a vacation was unheard of for most people until relatively recently. The word itself is connected to a break when the law courts weren`t operational, or so Wikipedia tells me, and that suggests a break for a very particular type of class of individuals. In the early days of the 20th century, cottages and resorts were the nearly exclusive luxury of the well-to-do. I know when I was a kid, vacations were about the family driving to visit relatives. When I was in my twenties and thirties, vacations were all about seeing things I had never seen.
But now, in our Third Phase, what's a vacation? Ironically, as I sat down to write this I received a free e-book from the University of Chicago press, "Travelling in Place: A History of Armchair Travel" For a moment I was lost. Travel could be done inside a room, confined to a room even. If so then if travel was truly essential to a vacation than a vacation could be me staying put, staying in my room even. And if my vacation is me staying put, then what is the difference between staying at home and travelling? And ultimately does any of this matter?
It matters because giving shape and meaning to life is what life is about and documenting that is what this blog is about. Vacations are part of the rhythms that we are are used to and are comfortable with. Vacations are also a way of forcing oneself out of routines and habits that always bear occasional evaluation. You become aware of loops and strictures often by stepping away for a moment...stepping a long way away or crossing the room. In fact, there is a whole emerging science of vacations that is providing keen insights into how to plan one, how to best enjoy one, how to reflect on one...
Our vacation was great and the proof of that may well be that we were sad when it was done. And to be completely honest, I am already planning the next one and the one after that. P