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:
- We attended the celebration of Fête des Voisins (Neighbor Day) in Bordeaux with our friends T&T;
- 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;
- We swam in the ocean (for the first time in a long, long time);
- We camped;
- We visited the Dune de Pyla (or Pilat);
- We went to Spain (!);
- We ate an extraordinary three-course vegan meal…in Spain (!!)
- 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.