July 1, 2008 at 5:31 pm Leave a comment

1: a respite or a time of respite from something : intermission
2: a scheduled period during which activity (as of a court or school) is suspended
3: a period spent away from home or business in travel or recreation <had a restful vacation at the beach>

— Merriam-Webster Dictionary

The kids are out of school. The weather is warm. It is summertime and a common season of the year during which to take a vacation. All too often, however, the vacation that ensues has the same quality of busyness and demands that people are intending to escape. People often joke that upon their return, they really need a vacation to recover from their “vacation.”

Instead of choosing travel or highly active recreation for your vacation, in a manner that continues the busyness reflected in your day-to-day life, consider truly taking some time off. If your life is filled with a demanding schedule, the most effective vacation may be one in which activity is suspended for a period of time. Taking time for reflection, rest, and relaxation may be called for. Rather than adding stimulation to an overextended lifestyle, this kind of “down-time” can be rejuvenating and nourishing for your body and mind. In addition, you don’t have to wait until you’ve accrued a week or more of vacation to take this kind of “down-time” for yourself – even a quiet three day weekend from time-to-time spent in the presence of nature can be a breath of fresh air as a break from the non-stop activity of everyday life.

Henry David Thoreau (from Walden, Chapter 4) can serve as a role model for recharging your batteries with a vacation of suspended activity:

“I did not read books the first summer; I hoed beans. Nay, I often did better than this. There were times when I could not afford to sacrifice the bloom of the present moment to any work, whether of the head or hands. I love a broad margin to my life. Sometimes, in a summer morning, having taken my accustomed bath, I sat in my sunny doorway from sunrise till noon, rapt in a reverie, amidst the pines and hickories and sumachs, in undisturbed solitude and stillness, while the birds sing around or flitted noiseless through the house, until by the sun falling in at my west window, or the noise of some traveller’s wagon on the distant highway, I was reminded of the lapse of time. I grew in those seasons like corn in the night, and they were far better than any work of the hands would have been. They were not time subtracted from my life, but so much over and above my usual allowance. I realized what the Orientals mean by contemplation and the forsaking of works. For the most part, I minded not how the hours went. The day advanced as if to light some work of mine; it was morning, and lo, now it is evening, and nothing memorable is accomplished. Instead of singing like the birds, I silently smiled at my incessant good fortune. As the sparrow had its trill, sitting on the hickory before my door, so had I my chuckle or suppressed warble which he might hear out of my nest. My days were not days of the week, bearing the stamp of any heathen deity, nor were they minced into hours and fretted by the ticking of a clock; for I lived like the Puri Indians, of whom it is said that “for yesterday, today, and tomorrow they have only one word, and they express the variety of meaning by pointing backward for yesterday forward for tomorrow, and overhead for the passing day.” This was sheer idleness to my fellow-townsmen, no doubt; but if the birds and flowers had tried me by their standard, I should not have been found wanting. A man must find his occasions in himself, it is true. The natural day is very calm, and will hardly reprove his indolence.”


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