A couple of months back, a management "expert", the term is loosely applied, not sure he thought of himself thusly but that's what he was supposed to do; informed me that work should take up about fifty percent of your time every day, including weekends, the rest divvied up among sleep/rest, family and some altruistic pursuit. At the time I refrained from sarcastically asking whether the time I spent in traffic every day, the waiting for people to show up and other such counted as work, they sure as heck felt like it. This expert, don't get me wrong, he was a perfectly nice man, doing what he was hired to do, then proceeded to try to "help" me, reach my "possible potential" by "setting goals" (about work)etc. It was eye-opening to say the least.
Why you might ask should I find all this somewhat repugnant? Bear with me, there is a point to all of this. As our lives have gotten busier our quality of life has deteriorated. There is nothing wrong with working hard or even long hours if it acheives something. But not at the expense of your life. And sadly, that's just what happens. Why else are we all suffering from lifestyle diseases and stress and burnout and.....
Now this rant should be familiar to all who know me. But this week, while watching how the other half live, while floating on the extremely blue water, while contemplating my toes as I lay on the sand, I asked once again. Why? And the answer is rapidly becoming, I don't know anymore. Why do I work all hours for a country that cares not. I have no one to leave anything to, no kids, my siblings live outside, my family shrinking. Why do I care? Sadly, I find myself caring less. It's certainly not for financial reward, all I do is pay bills and eke out an existence that consists of work and frantic running around on my one real day off. If you allow it, the job will consume you. And I know now, I'm not willing for that to happen, again.
So what's the point right? The management expert who so ticked me off by presuming to know what was right for me, without understanding anything about who I am, was in fact wrong. You have to do what is right for you. Even if it means doing nothing, "improving" nothing, accepting no labels or roles defined by others, simply being. And that's what vacations are about, vacating. Leaving behind, not being there other than the shadowy outline of the you space that you re-occupy when you return. Taking yourself out, refreshing yourself and your being by not doing. True vacations are not about shopping maniacally, or going to theme parks or all those other things we do to fill our time because we don't know how to do nothing. It is about facing yourself at your most elemental, even for a brief moment.
And last night I truly remembered what it was to vacation. Not for where I was or even what I was doing, but as we watched the sun go down over the horizon, floating in a sea of blue azure, the water gently lapping, warm against our bodies, slippery as fish, in the accepting womb of the sea. Nothing mattered in those moments, tomorrow would take care of itself, for now, we had this.
Thank you John for the peace you gave me.