It’s almost August, and I still haven’t taken a proper summer vacation. Yes, I played a little mid-week hooky to visit a vineyard in Virginia, and I’ll be going out to Harper’s Ferry for tubing this weekend; but what I really need is to GET. OUT. OF. D.C. Escaping to Virginia for a day trip doesn’t do it for me anymore. I need to fulfill my addiction to relaxation with a harder and more powerful dose of absolute nothingness.
Since I’ve fallen into the pattern of going to work and (what some may call) being an adult, I sometimes forget the importance of doing nothing. It’s always been a necessary thing for me to do in order to prevent burnout and recharge my inner battery. It gives me a chance to step back for a second and regain some perspective on my life. A favorite pastime of mine, doing nothing is both enjoyable for me and something I can do very well. I like it so much that I even bought a book the last time I was on vacation called The Art of Doing Nothing (buy it, seriously, it’s great). I can’t imagine anything more appropriate for a vacation than reading a book about doing nothing (besides the obvious nap after reading it). Reading is the perfect act of nothingness to do on vacation because it’s essentially doing nothing yet it still makes you feel like you’ve accomplishing something.
But why do we always feel the need to be doing something? There are many sayings that say we stop living when we stop moving/learning/etc. We feel the need to be doing something in order to feel accomplished and validated as a student, employee, good citizen, or whatever we may see ourselves as. From the time we are born, we are competing with each other. We compete for friends in elementary school, spots on high school sports teams, acceptance into college, and placement in the job market. Our society encourages (loves?) competition. With these expectations to perform at our best and be productive robots all the time, taking vacation has developed this almost taboo-vibe about it. I mean, what kind of unambitious and lazy person would elect to take time away from work? Well, at work, they give employees something called “paid time off” for a reason. To USE it. So if I decide to take a vacation using my earned time off, I refuse to feel bad about it. There’s already enough in the world to feel bad about.
Vacations are about taking a much needed break from being an adult. Even though summer isn’t the same as when I was a kid, it still brings out my nostalgic side. I find myself daydreaming about a time when things were simpler. When I was a kid, I didn’t have to worry about taking days off from work or how many work emails I’d have to go through when I got back. Vacations were carefree. They were summer.
Next week, I will be going up to Maine with my family. My first REAL summer vacation of the year. Despite my first instinct to try to plan out each day like I have to do in my little D.C. bubble world, I think I’m just going to let the days plan themselves.
What’s your favorite summer escape?