Earlier this year, I took a week’s vacation and came back with a realization.
I went to Austria with my husband and friends in March. I left behind my cell phone, my laptop, email, IM, everything.
Just before I left, I feared my family was about to bust apart (stepmother and sister and I were in some deeply uncomfortable discussions about money and shared ownership). I dreaded going away for a week and brooding on the dissolution of my family. Somehow, we accomplished some major repair work by cell phone on the way to the airport. So, family as intact as it ever was, I was able to leave the country with a clear heart and be far away.
I had several books, the company of friends, and was able to hide out in the mountains in a country where I don’t speak the language. I tried to learn to ski, I went for long walks in foothills. We took a day trip to Italy. We tried several varieties of schnapps. And I didn’t think about home all that much, except to be grateful for the lack of worry.
After that most complete retreat, I saw the world differently. On the plane ride home, I realized that it was time for me to find a new job. It really was that simple, like crossing a threshold. Something about going away, about really taking a break, changed my perspective entirely.
The hard part for me is taking that practice and incorporating it into my everyday life. I don’t always have a week to spare to realign my head. The hard part about being an adult is that there is (often) no watchful responsible party to call a timeout. So, I need to look for little opportunities to restore my energies, whether through a nap, meditation, a walk, a bike ride, or taking a long bath with a copy of the New Yorker magazine. I need to become a better judge of when to give myself downtime instead of pushing through whatever it is that seems important.
I might never know what that rest might provide in terms of insight or new perspective.