One thing I have struggled with since moving to Dallas is the idea of vacation. While breaks from school allow for some rest, other responsibilities quickly fill the void. In order to get a picture of what my schedule looks like when school is back in, just head to your local school playground during recess. The screaming, running, screaming, jumping, screaming, falling…did I mention the screaming?
Needless to say, my need for a vacation may seem obvious. I just wish I knew how to take one.
“Vacation time” since my freshman year of college has been spent on youth camps, retreats, staff/leadership retreats, and family time. Period. Two things I want to convey before moving on: a) I’m not complaining about that fact, and b) some family time has been relaxing and vacation-esque. However, (no offense to mine or anyone’s family) family time usually feels obligatory and polite. Family time is definitely necessary and great, but is it really vacation?
If not, what classifies as vacation? Seclusion? Travel? Doing something other than routine enjoyment?
Yesterday, I tried going on a brief “vacation”. I spent the afternoon sleeping on my couch, then left the house without giving details to anyone else about what I was doing. Free Chipotle, some frozen yogurt, browsing the bookstore, and catching a free movie. Oh, and staying off my phone (I know, definitely a shocker). I wasn’t going to talk with/look for/interact with anyone beyond giving my burrito order, and saying “thanks” to the yogurt guy and ticket taker. Here is what my night looked like:
> Forgot my Chipotle receipt, so I had to pay for the burrito. The burrito was spicier than normal, and didn’t meet the usual level of satisfaction. It also left my neck wet from the spice.
> Ended up parking next to the only car in the massive shopping center lot that had people needing help with car trouble. They also had a disabled senior adult in the front seat, who was getting rapidly impatient.
> Held the door open for an older gentlemen, who appeared jolly at first. He tried engaging with people in the yogurt shop through small talk and cheesy jokes, before slumping into an outdoor seat by himself…displaying the epitome of loneliness.
> All of the seats in and around the yogurt shop were taken, so I had to lean against a pole to enjoy my yogurt. Okay, all the seats weren’t taken…I just didn’t want to sit by the lonely old man. Oh, and P.S. I watched the ladies with the car trouble tinker around some more while eating my yogurt. No interaction, remember?
> The “no interaction” thing went out the window 3 minutes later, when a good friend I’ve known for basically my entire life showed up for some yogurt too. We engaged in a brief chat after she saw me leaning on the pole.
> I show up to the theatre, only to discover that the movie has been postponed 2 1/2 hours. I burn the time by walking around the mall, and spending money that I probably shouldn’t spend. Oh, and more interaction happens with retail associates.
> Finally got to watch the movie, and head home just before 1am.
Was I put off for my night going moderately off-kilter? Perhaps. Am I a jerk for ignoring the opportunities placed before me to help people emotionally/physically? Maybe. Is it wrong or selfish of me to just want time for myself? I’m not sure. Some might call me silly for labeling my planned schedule a “vacation” in the first place.
Out of everything that happened, here is something I observed.
The only time I used my phone last night was to capture this picture. I heard this man playing the piano amidst the hustle of the Friday night mall atmosphere. He was playing soft, gentle, beautiful music. I sat on the bench behind him, and just watched and listened for at least 25 minutes. This is probably the most calm shot I could have taken; the amount of people and extra noise near the piano was intense. However, the piano continued to resonate heavenly tones…the pianist unaffected by his hectic surroundings.
This was peace in the midst of chaos. Simple pleasure in the midst of materialistic priorities. Those 25 minutes for me were pure vacation. My stress level plummeted, my muscles relaxed, and my mind floated around in a figurative vacuum.
For me, I think this is what my future vacations will look like. Realizing that the chaos, plans, and crammed schedule will never cease…yet still finding a way to escape from it all, even if it’s just 25 minutes. God never promised us a glamorous escape to tropical paradise, but He did speak of abundant life. Don’t miss the chances to experience the restful side of that life, while you’re too busy planning the details of your “vacation.”
If you’ll excuse me, I’m saving gas to walk over and grab a cheap lunch. Looking forward to my 5 minute vacation.