Life is such an unstoppable treadmill these days that we scarcely know how to take a breather. We simply keep running without knowing how to switch off from the world’s madness. I have friends who have not been on a vacation for years. They have been hurtling towards an unknown destination at breakneck speed and literally destroying themselves. I have often found my own self looking haggardly and have realized that I have been wearing myself out too much.
Pausing one’s life for a while is an act of rejuvenation. It is akin to catching one’s breath at an aid-station during a marathon run and similar to refueling on a long drive.
Life-pauses enable us to contemplate and ponder, to ruminate and mull. Even a lonesome long walk is like a pause. It gives us time and space to think deeply about life’s imponderables. A short vacation, away from the humdrum of everyday life can be even more revitalising. Many exacting issues can find solutions in the midst of nature, with birds chirping merrily in the vicinity and a cool breeze playing with one’s hair. Indeed, major life decisions should be taken when one is far from the madding crowd. Families can bond better on a trip. Even strained relationships can improve with quality time spent in relative isolation. And of course, the smartphone has to be reined in!
Jack Adam Weber said that the vacation we often need is freedom from our own mind. Over thinking has verily become a stressful habit for the modern human being. Decluttering the mind and simplifying one’s thoughts can result in an astounding feeling of freedom. The process of simplification usually involves getting away from calls, files, meetings and usual chores. Even constant television viewing and being the recipient of incessant newsfeed can be almost debilitating if we are not careful.
It is the mind which needs more of a rest after all, not so much the body. When was the last time you sat down alone without fiddling with the phone? The ability to convince oneself that one’s happiness depends more on calmness and mindfulness, than anything else, is what really matters.
Surveys indicate that corporate executives do not usually avail of even paid vacations, and a majority of them actually work while on a holiday. Is it such a great idea to be sitting at the Anjuna beach and staring at a spreadsheet instead of at the sunset, or wherever else?
Vacations can also turn out to be frenetic at times. Some families prefer to indulge in endless sight-seeing and frenzied activity while in the touristy mode. The result is that they end up feeling even more fatigued once they return to their normal eco-system.
A get-away does not have to be expensive either. One family that I know well does not go to far off places, but simply shifts to the nearby home of friends who are abroad. Even a week long sojourn gives their lives the kind of sprucing up that they need.
In the celebrated Frank Capra film “It’s a Wonderful Life” a guardian angel actually shows the suicidally inclined protagonist (played by James Stewart) what life for his loved ones would have been like had he not been alive, and the whole scenario changes. While we ourselves don’t need to analyze our situations in quite as drastic a manner, getting a wider perspective is always a smashing idea.
Shying away from the burdens of life is not the aim. Being able to handle the challenges that one faces is the goal. No one can tell where life is headed until they see the bigger picture and experience a sense of ‘aboveness’ as some saints call it. By being able to distance one self from the mundane, one is able to have a birds eye view of life.
Vacations can only seem like becalming life-pauses if we are receptive to their value. And a Milton Berle quote goes like this- “Laughter is an instant vacation.”
Which means that those who don’t have time to holiday still have hope!