Sud-Sud-Ouest*

I am a big believer in vacations.  That isn’t to say that I’d like life to be one big vacation – quite the contrary.  In fact, I love to work, when the work is something I love.  But I also deeply believe in the principal of getting away.  After all, that’s what vacation means, from vacate + tion (the action or instance of…):  the act of vacating.

[Incidentally, for whatever reason, the British insist upon calling it a holiday, a misnomer (from the Middle English for holy day – quite clearly not the same thing) I picked up for no other reason than that I like the shortened version:  hols.  As in, “Can’t make it to your party as we’ll be on hols that week.”  I also like saying brolly in lieu of umbrella.]

A couple of years ago Chris and I watched a very good TED talk by a designer about how he takes a year off every seven years for a sabbatical, so that he can sort of recharge his creative batteries (do listen to him explain it…he does a much better job than I could).  On a more micro-level, there was a prominent British mathematician called G.H. Hardy who spelled it out thus:

…unconscious activity often plays a decisive part in discovery; that periods of ineffective effort are often followed, after intervals of rest or distraction, by moments of sudden illumination; that these flashes of inspiration are explicable only as the result of activities of which the agent has been unaware – the evidence for all this seems overwhelming.

OK – to be fair, I’m not sure that Hardy would approve of me quoting him to support my theory of how vacations are excellent, but he’s dead.  So.  The point is this:  vacating, as it were, is an excellent time – if we consciously make it so – for freeing our brains from the mumbo-jumbo that comprises our day-to-day. Epiphanies often come not when we’re focused intently upon a solution, but when we take a minute (or a month) to think about something else entirely.

Which is a very fancy way of leading to this point:  we’ve just returned from a lovely vacation in which these things happened, more or less in this order:

  1. We attended the celebration of Fête des Voisins (Neighbor Day) in Bordeaux with our friends T&T;
  2. We attended, also with T&T, a demonstration against InCite, a very much for-profit government institution actively implementing gentrification behind  a barely-present mask of feigned social welfare that’s not fooling anybody;
  3. We swam in the ocean (for the first time in a long, long time);
  4. We camped;
  5. We visited the Dune de Pyla (or Pilat);
  6. We went to Spain (!);
  7. We ate an extraordinary three-course vegan mealin Spain (!!)
  8. We saw the Pyrenees.

We did also do some other things, but those are the highlights.  And in that time, I was graced with the following epiphany:  I need to step things up work-wise about 25 notches like yesterday. So, do expect some rants of pure and unadulterated exhaustion and frustration in upcoming weeks…maybe even a little less coherence than you’ve come to expect from me…

How about y’all?  Any plans for vacating soon?

*South by southwest – as in the area of France we visited.  You can see the route we took here.

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0 thoughts on “Sud-Sud-Ouest*

  1. Sounds like a great holidays, complete with swimming too! Coincidentally I had my first swim in Kythnos island, Greece, too !!

  2. ann says:

    nothing like it in the whole world…bonne vacances!

  3. Clare King says:

    I need to swim in an ocean soon, or a sea that would be good too.

  4. […] on Ann’s post about our vacation on the South West coast of France, here is a post with mostly photos of this […]

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