Friday, February 18, 2011


     As a culture we seem to think of fun and relaxation and good times as "entertainment" rather than pleasure. I believe there's a widespread belief and accepted norm that what we do for fun is supposed to involve going somewhere or doing something, some action, activity, movement, or push. It occurs to me that this may be just another way of looking outside of ourselves to fix something bothering us on the inside.
     What do I mean when I say that I need a vacation? The very statement seems to express an exhaustion and a lack of interest in my life and responsibilities, that I am worn out and need restoration, that going somewhere else will make all of my tiredness and overwhelm and lack of interest go away. And maybe that's partially true. Warm beaches and ski slopes and exotic adventures go a long way to distracting me from the daily ins and outs of my schedule. But I always have to come home again, to return to the stuff of my life, such that in some ways the post vacation let down often feels more desolate than before I left.
     I'm learning that it's possible to take a vacation any time I want by simply putting down what's in front of me and turning in a fresh direction; taking a walk or going for a drive or doing something unexpected and loving for someone else. I think it's possible to  open my mind to an internal state of play. A good laugh, in some ways, is more satisfying than a week long trip through airports lugging baggage. If I look at the world with amusement and curiosity, if I am quick to smile and physically relaxed, then I am at ease and whatever I encounter is pleasing and entertaining even. It's an attitude and an outlook.
    In the same way, if I experience my life and my days as being full of chores and burdens and all kinds of things I have to do, then I am in dire need of constant escape. Cocktail hour rolls around and beer cans burst open, corks pop on wine bottles, sighs of contentment can be heard around the world as ice cubes drop into glass. The promise of chemical relief has come round again to ease the edge on life. But like a vacation, the buzz wears off, the headace of reality returns in the morning light, and the hope of permanent relief has been dashed yet again.
     What if I want what I have? What if I can find joy in something as simple as a deep breath? What if I trust in unexpected blessings and keep an eye out for them; open my heart to chance encounters and the excitement of learning? What if life is not some trudging journey toward high accomplishments, but the simple enjoyment of everyday things- a delicious taste of something sweet, afternoon sunlight though a window, the fragrance of a stargazer lilly?
     Then life is full of vacation and air and space and ease, because I am full of those things. My experinece of life mirrors my experience of who I am. Frustration begets hardship. Impatience begets frustration. Lack of faith begets impatience, and life is a self-fulfilled prophecy.  I can open my spirit to the possibility of unlimited happiness or shut it down with darkness. For today, I choose internal playfulness. I choose curiosity and interest, trust, and humor. I choose the path of joy.