“What brings you here,” each and every hotel concierge would ask. For the first time in a long time I could proudly say, “I’m just on vacation.” With each stop through east Texas, I obtained subtle glimpses into what vacation must be like. Rather than checking in and immediately getting to work, I had nothing but time. And that time was sweetly suspended as it only is on vacation. In essence having all that time proved I had everything. I found myself again in travel, as it should be.
I was experiencing a bit of work burn out. Traveling and working is exhausting, no matter what some critics might think. For the past week however, I made it my mission to do nothing in order to have everything. I wanted to enjoy places without worries. I saw what I saw and didn’t worry about the rest. What I learned across this road trip through Eastern Texas is that we all need some time doing nothing to see we have everything.
If you haven’t taken a vacation this year, I encourage you to do so for this simple reason, time. In the US we are frequently bombarded with doing things as quickly as possible because everyone is so “busy” and lacks ”time”. Vacation taught me that we shouldn’t lack time. We should just embrace it. I would check into hotels and have no plans, to-do lists or agendas. Travel was an open book again. I could lounge around poolside and not worry that I only have 20 minutes to do so. I had all the time in the world.
I watched at my hotel’s pool as a redheaded three year old swam around in the water. She loved every minute of being on vacation with her family. Add over 20 years and I was really just looking at what I used to be and what I was doing now. I loved every second, minute and hour I had of doing nothing. I experienced those vacations of old, when I was that three year old in the pool that seemingly didn’t know about time.
When I am traveling for work, I frequently look at things in a “how can I write about this” manner. The details of a destination become paragraphs. And due to work burnout, I was no longer seeing these details. I was too obsessed in finding them that I didn’t recognize they were right in front of my face. On this vacation I saw the details for what they were. They weren’t words on a computer page, but little clues about the destination. The beauty of vacation is that you have more time to see these details. If you can take a true vacation, you leave the details of your home and work life behind and embrace those before you instead.
Normally when I travel, my priorities are all out of sorts. I forgo seeing one thing because I have articles due or some emails to send. A vacation can help you recognize your priorities in life, ones you might not have seen before. I let my email inbox go. I didn’t worry about posting on my set days. And surprisingly, the sky didn’t fall in and life kept going.
Those priorities consisted of lingering on the San Antonio Riverwalk a little longer over Alamo beer, stopping to tour a museum completely devoted to Dr Pepper and detouring to visit the land of uncertainty, Uncertain, Texas.
Uncertain was one of my last stops before heading back into the working world. And strangely it was in Uncertain around the telling cypress trees of Caddo Lake that I was certain about one thing. Everyone needs a break, if only to appreciate endless time, the details of a destination and to set priorities straight again. Life isn’t all about the pings of emails and getting things “done”. It is about detours to uncertainty and finding certainty in them.
What have you learned on vacation?