Vacation is to do what you want. To indulge after having finished that agreed upon length of time devoting yourself to things that are either assigned to your list of responsibilities or reward for professional fulfillment or accomplishment.
And once fulfilled, to take a necessary amount of time to re-center oneself so that work can begin anew.
I try to focus on the principle of doing what I want on vacation because I trust in my sense of balance. Indulging my inner transient doesn’t take me as far for as long as it used to, and thus sometimes I need breaks from vacation. To stop vacationing while on vacation, because sometimes the balance of what I want to do shifts away from a vacation mindset and back to one of pattern and responsibility.
When I don’t want to jump from city to city and flood my senses, I tend to find one, or maybe a small town that can keep me for a week. I’ll use it to establish short term patterns and in doing so renew a sense of balance and recharge my battery for exploration.
I have a good friend in Duhok who I love talking to.
He and I have a several-times-a-week habit of sitting down in a small shop with a coffee and an idea. The coffee and idea last for hours, one slowly disappears while the other expands, or shrinks, or spawns splinters that we’ll discuss to the death or leave to retrieve over another coffee.
One day our discussion was about the merits of comfort and consistency within the frame of location or vacation. He argued for their value. That’s to say, staying in a location for a prolonged period of time, to develop a consistent pattern of habit. To allow oneself to be comfortable.
I, on the other hand, as the 27-year-old overgrown kid who has somehow done a good job morphing a life of near-transience into one approaching a clearer sense of purpose argued the opposite, in favor of the need for continuous sensory exposure.
My thought being that a lack of relative comfort and consistency has continued to drive me forward and fuel my need for self-improvement, that comfort and consistency are too often the equal of complacency and mental stagnation. I should add that although I have a good reputation for being spontaneous in this sense, I’m a far more settled person now.
He and I talked the idea inside and out and through to several different conclusions that each ended about the same. And in each conclusion he was more right than me. More than anything, it made me realize how disproportionately I was still living on the sense of spontaneity.
There’s obviously merit in both views, but living in perpetual spontaneity- though exciting- limits anyone’s ability to process deeply, as the mind is occupied with immediacy and the present.
There’s no real exception to the pattern, as it’s human nature that once we experience something we have to quantify it and file the memory for keepsake. Beyond a certain pace or speed of life there’s little more one can do than have their mind in a perpetual state of quantifying and filing experience.
And that’s where the value of my friend’s comments held their greatest weight.
Comfort and consistency -building habits of normalcy even while on vacation- form pattern, and with it less need for cognitive awareness from one small thing or task to the next. It might seem like rejecting the value of mindfulness in the moment, but the point is to maintain the balance between the two.
It’s only when we accept some level of consistency in our patterns that the mind is freed from everyday tasks and given the chance to think broadly and with greater depth. I often forget (and then constantly remind myself) that I have my clearest thoughts when I’m doing the most simple, patterned things. Comfort and consistency frees the mind of the burden of lesser tasks, and frees it to think and wander.
So I’ve now learned that when I live with a sense of immediacy and a focus on the present, I tend to not write as much. I haven’t blogged in two and a half months and the greater part of that time has been spent moving from place to place; living within immediacy, spontaneity.
When I do sit down to write nothing comes out because I’m still trying to process things that have too recently occurred. I don’t have that pattern of the seemingly mundane to help free my thoughts.
And since I have been mindful of the idea after that chat with my friend, I can’t help but notice the patterns in myself or the sway of the balance one way or the other at all moments when I travel.
I do write less, but that’s not to say I suffer for it (though this blog does), but rather that maybe I’m moving too much and not taking enough time to associate and understand each experience as best I can.
It’s like taking a stack of papers and diligently placing them into an ever expanding filing cabinet. There’s always more to file, and the cabinet only grows and gets harder to work within. Eventually the process slows because the past events collect and never truly shrink or disappear.
Framing it once again within the context of this blog, it tends to leave me with many half-finished thoughts. I have an expanding graveyard of half-written blogs or completed ones that for one reason or another I won’t publish. Lately that balance has been tipping in favor of ‘non-publisheds’.
I’d rather not post for months than put out blogs that feel forced or unfinished.
In a day or two I’m going to post a finished blog that I’ve had sitting for a few days. I had to go through several stages of internal discussion and doubt to reach a point where most of my conclusions seemed to say ‘post it’.
It’s one of the aforementioned many half-thoughts that have collected and waited to either be discarded or completed. About a week ago I visited a site that was four years in the making for me, and hit home especially hard considering where I live and work, and current events in the surrounding area.
I just hope that the way I wrote it accurately expresses what I think about it.