I find no matter how philosophical I prefer to be, coming home from a vacation is not without its misgivings. Readjusting oneself to “reality” is a deceivingly inoffensive expression for all that awaits you upon your return, frequently thick with dread and apprehension. The stark contrast with the earlier fervency of one’s impending departure is more than a little apparent. If one were supposed to cultivate the habit of delighting oneself by way of leisure time throughout the year, the paradox deserves attention. Conducting one’s life with as much purpose as a ping pong ball ricocheting from one whack or another is hardly being in control of things.
Even a cursory consideration of the perplexity reveals it is larger than might first be presumed. There is more to this than merely “getting back in the groove”. Like many other events in life, the irritating particle is but one in a succession of mischief. Consider for example the explosive resolve of some who say that in view of what transpires during their absence they will never again abandon the helm. In this horribly fast-paced world obligations accumulate with incredible speed. Ideally one should snap one’s fingers at such encumbrance, but the petrified truth is that unless you unravel it, it won’t get done. In short the anticipation of a smothering avalanche of obstructions is not something for frivolous conjecture. There are consequences to hedonism!
Caving to the pressure there are those who – mistakenly in my view – pretend to dilute the burden of daily living by immersing themselves in short but intense retreats. While those jaunts apparently gratify the need to honour oneself for all that hard work, they do nothing to accomplish the further objective of rest and relaxation and the complete removal from the heat of the fire. Whether it is a mere accident of distance or whether I am clever enough to absent myself completely, I seldom dwell upon my duties once I have locked the door behind me. Nonetheless nature requires time to work its tranquilizing wizardry. To succeed in this purpose in less than ten days is almost impossible.
Our generation is spoiled. It wasn’t always that one could expect a vacation. The all-inclusive resort with such vulgarities as a swim-up bar in the pool was not the template for many people. The emphasis in these places is upon luxury and abundance (often a disguise for a lavish cafeteria in my opinion), and there is every imaginable diversion to thwart anything approaching idleness. It is now well known that this level of indulgence is frequently sustained by overwhelming debt. As a result the prospect of spending an entire year or more with one’s nose to the grindstone is no longer unfashionable and may even be considered judicious.
What is common to both attitudes – whether to vacation or not – is the assessment of choices. Either way there are going to be repercussions. It is the temperance of expectations which perhaps wins the day. Avoiding being greedy about entitlement to a holiday is a first step. Remember that it is man’s fate to labour. To fly in the face of this adage is to risk defeat. In an era when we are bombarded with invitations to travel one has to ask whether this is a right or privilege and whose interests are best served by submitting to the allure?
When however one decides it is time for a break there are equally material ramifications to be pondered. First there must be a confession that by getting off the treadmill an inertia will ensue. Gathering speed to resume the pace is not instantaneous. It is therefore necessary to build a period of synthesis into the model. In our haste to recapture the status quo one only embroils oneself in needless multiplication of worries. But it isn’t a matter of “Don’t worry, Be happy!” One has to anticipate the result and adapt accordingly. This means reducing the misery of realigning oneself by diminishing one’s hopefulness and anticipated returns. As practical as the tactic may be there is frequently resistance, but it is a friction easily overcome if one is prepared to be realistic and to abandon some elements of desire. Reconvening one’s regular routine requires patience though often at a price. In the final analysis there is bound to be a period both before and after a vacation that is uninhabited; otherwise one risks exposure to debilitating work and a very rude readjustment.
In spite of ourselves nature eventually establishes its own dominion over our paltry affairs; and like it or not we conform to the rigours of everyday life following whatever boisterous and spendthrift ways we may have indulged in the previous few weeks. Nevertheless I am adamant that there remains room for design and purpose in these matters as in all others of conscious choice. I refuse to allow myself to be the mere puppet of my vagabond instincts.