Vacation for Gabrielle!
I gave myself a gift next week, and I feel blessed for it. I will take my one and only vacation for the year. For the longest time I couldn’t think of where to go, and was rather hoping inspiration would fall from the sky. At work I am fortunate enough not to need to fantasize about what all else I could be doing besides working. I needed a suggestion, and to my relief it came just in time.
One could say I have been in-training for the pilgrimage to Chincoteague and Assateague Islands ever since I was 7, reading the infamous children’s books themed around the horse, Misty of Chincoteague. The series of books told the semi-fictional story of the feral horses that still maintain a population on the islands to this day. Rekindling childhood memories, eating watermelon, and camping on the beach was an exciting combination to look forward to. Having grown up near the Pacific ocean, I sorely miss looking out on a wet horizon, inviting me to swim while inducing staggering awe. It was not until a friend suggested the trip that I even knew how close I was to those islands, and the voyage seemed all the more possible. After working all spring and summer outside, my craving for a cool respite had compounded over the months.
One cannot enjoy work without play, nor play without work. Leisure gets old without activity. There is a yin to every yang, and the interplay could be minute, such as the point between inhales and exhales. It could be as momentous and singular as a mid-life crisis. It could be appreciated or dreaded. I had a good friend Larry who liked to think that there was both heaven and hell in this world, and it is up to the individual to live in either. My mother likes to squeeze everything she can out of a vacation, and typically ignores the option of relaxing because she gets so much more out of learning and seeing everything she can. Growing up, vacations could become a stressful obligation, leaving me exhausted. This was an example of me turning our family’s leisure into a hellish situation, merely through my individual perspective. Perhaps this was my mental block when trying to plan my happy vacation scenario.
On NPR there was a radio show that talked about how happiness is synthesized in our bodies through the production of serotonin, and it reminds me that if I chose to be happy in an activity, I could enjoy all types of work and all types of leisure. This lead me to thinking about my need for variety and the shift into something new. At first I was worried I was too happy at work to really merit a vacation, but then I realized I was giving myself something I needed by adding variety to my life. My brain will be refreshed by the change in scenery, even though I am just as happy at home or at the beach. The newness of the ocean is the source of my awe, and if I were stuck on a desert island, it might take a while, but I would probably get tired of staring at it.
And so, friends, may we all have a good week in our respective work and rest. Let us hope that we have a little of both, because that feeling of holding an asana until your legs shake is just as awesome as the child’s pose that follows. We can’t live our lives inhaling for a few years, and then exhaling for a few more, or can we? I will test this one out next week, meditating on the sandy shores of a horse-infested island.