Have you ever needed vacation after a vacation? When you came home so tired that you just needed to relax, rest, basically just sleep. It has happened to me several times. But even then, disconnecting from the daily routine has a powerful effect over our minds.
In the last few months a friend gave me a gift that unfolded a beautiful and powerful truth in my life. You can have short vacations at home!. I will tell you later how, but first let me tell you the story that Stephen R. Covey tells in his book “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People”.
Arthur Gordon, was feeling that everything in his life was stale and flat. His enthusiasm waned; his writing efforts were fruitless and his situation was growing worse day by day, his barren days dragged on until the point he realized he needed help.
He turn to his physician who did not find anything physically wrong with him but asked him a question:
“Where were you happiest as a child?”
“At the beach, I supposed”
“Can you follow instructions for a day?”
“I think I can”
“Then I want you to drive to the beach for a day, take something to eat, but you cannot write, read, talk to anybody or call anybody, or chat, and I will give you the prescription to take every three hours”
Arthur did as he was told, he was ready to do anything, to feel better. When he got to the beach he opened his first prescription to find a paper that read:
He thought that the doctor had gone mad, he had ruled out music, phone, conversation, besides the sound of the seagulls and the water, what else was there?
But he did as he was told and soon he found that if he listen intently there was a fraction of a moment in which everything pauses waiting. In that instant of stillness the racing thoughts pause and the mind rest. Soon he found himself thinking things bigger than his self.
The second prescription which he opened at noon read:
“Try reaching back”.
So he starting thinking about his happy childhood moments he had spend at that beach with his brother who had died in world war II. At the end of those hours he realized that happy people were usually assured and confident people and if he could go back and touch those moments of happiness, could he find some kind of power and strength from them? Touching his past happiness make him forget every worry of his present and this in itself was beautiful.
The third prescription read: “Reexamine your motives”
And that is when the challenge started. He felt defensive at first but then he realized that his motives were wrong, in the beginning his work had been fun, free, almost joyful, but lately his job has become his way of making money, pay bills. The sense of serving people, helping others, had been lost in his rate race. He realized that if your motives are wrong nothing can be right, no matter how hard or simple job you do for a living, as long as you are concerned about serving others you have a sense of purpose and when you are concerned only about yourself you do it less well.
The day was almost ending when Arthur read: “Write your problems in the sand.”
With a shell in his hand he did as he was told and walked away. Tide was soon going to erase them all.
Little breaks like these are powerful, refreshing, peaceful and make you connect with what is inside. But sometimes you cannot have a whole day to reflect like that. But I have discovered in the last three months a secret. You can have few short vacations at home! Even if you are a parent, you only need to make time.
My friends Carrie visited me for the last months and at the end of the day she will come to the living room and serve two cups of raspberry juice, the children were asleep, my husband was in a long trip in another country and the house was quiet. We usually put our phones away and sat in comfortable white chairs to talk. Sometimes we would simply be quiet looking at the mesmerizing fire in the long winters of this Germany of mine.
Sometimes we would reconnect with each other, other times talking we would reconnect with our dreams. It gave us perspective an made me see in a different light my daily tasks, or even my reactions to others around me, it will reconnect us with our past or it will makes us look with hope into the future.
This is how I discovered the importance of giving yourself time to relax in your daily routine. You don’t necessarily have to seat and talk with a friend, but you could do short little things that give you joy. For example, yesterday I went rollerblading, the day before I took a short bike ride in the wood behind my home.
Truth be told short vacations at home, moments of peace are necessary not so much for what you see, or say, or keep to yourself, but best of all, of how they make you see inside your soul, and reconnect.
“Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” Psalm 139:23,24
dedicated to my friends in Spain