We've been away from home and from our normal routines for the past two weeks. That, I think, is the essence of vacation. It's not about the places we go, the sights we see, the knick knacks we buy, but about the shift of pace and rhythm that changes our perceptions.
There is a stretching out of time that occurs when we wake up when we're rested, eat when we're hungry, and generally aren't in thrall to the clock or external demands. I stopped wearing a wrist watch years ago in an attempt to pay more close attention to the rhythms of my body and the world around me. That only works to a degree--I still need to be mindful of the time when school lets out, for example, and know what hours I am responsible for at work. It's also difficult to disregard the artificial measurement of time altogether, even not wearing a watch. There are clocks in my car, on my cell phone, on my computer, and in my home and office.
That's why vacation is so important. Not only (not even especially) for me, but for my husband. His day job is inordinately stressful, both physically and emotionally. He works long hours, has little control over his work day, and the outcomes are high stakes. It was a joy for the whole family to see him leave his pager at home and his cell phone off during our travels.
Our European friends have the right idea. Time off helps recharge body and soul.
Yesterday was my husband's first day back to work. Today is mine. We both find our work to be important and meaningful, but we both return to it with more than a little wistfulness. Being away, as a family, was healing and energizing. We had lots of time for laughter. We lingered over preparing and eating meals. At one point, we had 10 around the dinner table at my in-law's home: 6 adults and 4 children (not to mention the 3 dogs!). A three-ring circus, and yet, also peaceful despite the tumult.
These next 2 weeks are a last deep breath before the insanity of september and back to school for the boys, both of whom are starting in new schools. (Middle school and high school--how did *that* happen??)
For those of you in the Northern Hemisphere, enjoy the end of summer.