When I was a little girl, I was struggling with the concept of forever. I’d heard it mentioned in church that morning. The priest had said, if you were in good standing with God, you’d live forever. I couldn’t grasp this idea of forever, so I thought I’d test it out. I sat on the back step of our house and recited“forever, forever, forever” over and over again. But eventually, I had to stop. Eventually, forever has to stop. It just has to, right? I pondered that for days.
Other times, I’d hear grown-ups sigh and say, “All good things must come to an end.” They either sounded sad when they said it or matter-of-fact. Either way, I resented that comment. Why must all good things come to an end? Surely, if you wanted something badly enough, you could make it last. If there could be such a thing as forever, there could be such a thing as holding onto something for as long as you wanted. After all, forever is so expansive, what harm would it be to extend something you love a little longer? There was plenty of time for it to end.
I keep coming back to those old musings now, as I’m freshly returned from an idyllic six-week vacation in Ireland. After so long away, I should have felt some pining for home. Typically, at the end of a trip, even a great one, people will say, “I’m glad I went, but I was ready to come home.” I didn’t feel that way. I don’t feel that way now, six days after we returned.
I vowed when I left Ireland, I would hold onto the peace and happiness I felt while there. I vowed I would live in the moment, as we had done in our little cottage, and as I’d never done before in my life. I wouldn’t come home and immediately get sucked back into the busyness of life, the long work hours, the running list of household to-dos, the worries about the future and the regrets about the past. I wouldn’t go back to questioning my decisions or judging my actions. I wouldn’t let another day go by without noticing the beautiful. But oh, how easy it’s been to do just that. After all, we’d been gone six weeks. There was plenty to do just to get caught up.
Part of me knows it isn’t living in the moment to be wishing I were still there. Part of me wants to just be satisfied with being where I am, and grateful, and happy no matter what. And part of me wants to hold onto the dissatisfaction with going back to the same-old, same-old so that maybe I’ll make some changes that will reinvigorate my life and work.
What it comes down to really is that travel stimulates the senses. It makes you more aware, more observant, more vulnerable, and more grateful. And if we’re going to live creative lives, we need all of those things.
But we can’t travel all the time. It’s up to us to figure out how to achieve those things at home despite all the chores and responsibilities. So maybe I need to take a mini-vacation each day. Stop in the middle of the work day and read a book for an hour, go for a walk, take my lunch to the nearby park. Maybe vacation can’t be all day every day, but it could be a more regular interruption, an allowed break. After all, the work that needs to get done will get done. And it might get done better if I give myself space more often to vacation in my own backyard.
Sounds so easy, but I know it’s going to take effort. I’m hoping if I learned anything from six weeks away, it’s that life is what you make it. And if playtime is what I really need, it’s up to me to create it.
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