The Meaning of Vacation

As mentioned last week, I wasn’t quite in the mood for a full vacation, so I brought some work with me – my dancing feet and video camera. I’ve been contemplating shooting video versions of the Weekly for some time now but have been holding off due to the extra time investment it would require. Above is a trial but is something I will potentially pick up once I’ve built a foundation in my Farmers Market work and wrapped up some other projects.

This week I thought it fitting to discuss the concept of vacation and how we have lost touch with its ultimate goal in the modern world. That goal is embodied in the word itself – vacation, from the Latin vacare, to be unoccupied. It also has the suffix “-ion”, which can be broken down with a tool called “green language” to say “eye on”.1 Putting the root together with this suffix, vacation is the act of focusing the mind’s eye on being unoccupied.

But what do we do instead? In the lead up to departure we rush to have everything in order, losing sleep and packing on stress so that it takes a full few vacation days just to recover from the initial travel. After we finally get to our destination, there are two main permutations of the modern vacation. In one, we shut everything down – we say, “hey, it’s vacation!” and stay up all hours, eat whatever we want, and abandon exercise. True, we become unoccupied, but without the “eye on”. By shutting off everything and losing our disciplinary framework we don’t enter true vacation or receive its benefits.

In the other version, we pack every day full of activities, various transits to new and wonderful places, and try to fit in as much as possible to accomplish everything we want to do but can’t during normal working days. Here we have the “eye on” in full force but are also completely occupied. Again, in this imbalanced state we will fail to reach vacation.

So to reach that ideal state I have three tips to offer:

1) Pack a week early – with this simple step you’ll avoid the stress of last-minute preparations and enter vacation mode that much earlier after traveling.

2) Maintain eating, sleeping, and exercise during vacation – remember, this is an active state, not one in which we totally let go of everything. So eat reasonably, and especially at reasonable hours (I use a roughly 9pm – 9am fasting schedule). Sleep naturally – try not to use an alarm – and clear out the sleep deficit you’ve been building up for the past 50 weeks. And keep your exercise regimen – I do yoga every day. With this three-way disciplinary framework in place you’ll be in a much better position to become unoccupied physically and mentally.

3) Finally, during your vacation contemplate on the word itself, what it really means, and what you need to do to get there. Vacation – an active state of becoming unoccupied. Just pondering on this will open your mind to different avenues that will help you get the rest you need.

I hope this has given some food for thought and some useful ideas for how to approach your next vacation. Now let’s hear from you – what do you do to make the most of vacation and still get what you need in terms of R&R? Or do you find benefits in the modern form of vacation that override the need for a “vacation from vacation” afterward? Share your thoughts in the comments section. Productive week ahead!

1 an ion is also a charged particle, implying some type of directed energy