In America, most of us work our assess off all year to get away for a couple of weeks to places where we don’t have to work and we can turn off our brains. We call it vacation. The rest of the world calls it holiday. And, as it turns out, the rest of the world enjoys a lot more of it than we do in America. Nonetheless, the concept of vacation is to go away to recharge our spirits so that we can return refreshed and ready to be productive workers for another 50 weeks or so. I take the idea of time off pretty seriously. Mostly because I love hanging with my family and I realize how fleeting this time is in the realm of things. But also because I know how essential it is to let clean air swirl around in my head for a while as a way to remain a functioning member of society. A break from the machine to remember what’s important, and all that.
Next week we leave for The Bahamas. We’re staying in a little bungalow on a remote cay on the eastern edge of the Abacos. So remote, in fact, that we’ll be completely off the grid but for occasional wifi at one of two places to get a coffee and eggs. It’s the kind of getaway where there’s really only one thing to do – stay wet. It will be a great adventure.
I’m not sharing this to gloat. I’m sharing it because I like my friends and want to include them in my big life stuff. And this is big life stuff. We’ve busted our ass to make this trip possible. And while I’m totally looking forward to spending a couple weeks on a remote tropical island with my family, part of me is a little nervous about the whole ‘switching off’ thing. I’m just not very good at doing that. Never have been. And this trip will be as close to shutting down the system as I’ve ever ventured. I’m a pretty intense guy who can manage a lot of balls in the air. And at 47, my metabolism still runs so hot that sitting still for twenty minutes to read a book is a real challenge. So the concept of slowing down and letting relaxation wash over me is a little daunting. In fact, midway through our vacation in Florida last year, I complained to my wife that I was exhausted. She said that I was just relaxed, and instructed me to go with it. It was a weird sensation. I still don’t know whether I liked it. Who wants to be tired? That’s boring.
Next week in The Bahamas we’ll be busy beachcombing, island exploring, reef snorkeling, and bone fishing – but this trip isn’t like going to Disney World. There are no itineraries. No character breakfasts at Epcot. No fast passes for Everest. I’m bringing a book, but know damn well I’ll have to get pretty desperate to commit to the act of reading. If you know me, you know I prefer writing to reading. Creating to consuming. I can neither escape nor deny my desire to create something whenever I have the opportunity to consume anything. It’s a tragic flaw, I think. So I’m bringing my laptop in hopes of doing some writing under the influence of a clear mind. I look forward to that, actually. But mostly I look forward to time alone with my wife and daughters in a place so beautiful that it will take my breath away. To look up at night and see stars like diamonds strewn across black velvet. To swim in crystal clear water with colored fish. To feel the awesome sense of humility that comes from standing next to the ocean. And yes, to embrace and explore the terrible silences that will follow me around while I’m there.
See you guys on the other side of paradise. Maybe.
Note: I fully expect to be less grateful than I ought to be upon my return. It’s always that way with me after a trip away with my family. So, here is my apology in advance. Also, in case you’re into casing the middle-class, we have a house sitter, our local police station has been alerted to our trip, and everything worth anything will be temporary relocated to an off-site location. It’s really not worth your effort.
4 CommentsLEAVE A COMMENT
Jun 19, 2012
Take a nice writing journal and a fine writing implement so you can jot down stuff (points if you forget about the journal in a day or two ).
Extra credit if you can resist being online for one week.
Bonus points if you find a place that has an old ribbon typewriter that you can clack away on.
Enjoy your vacation Jim!
Jun 19, 2012
I’m *so* with you on this one, Jim. Besides, just the thought of coming home to a thousand emails is enough to spoil the silence. I say log on as often as you must to alleviate floating anxiety, but as infrequently as possible to let silence have its way.
Jun 19, 2012
I can relate to this piece. You have such a way of expressing distinct viewpoints we didn’t even know we ourselves shared.
As far as being mostly unplugged for the duration of your vacation:
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Jun 20, 2012
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