A vacation is like hitting the reset button. Every time I leave, I come back with a sense of renewal. There is nothing like physically and mentally stepping outside of your daily life. It is hard to get a fresh and true perspective when you are too close to the large canvas on which you are painting your life.
It is easy to overlook simple things in life when we are easily distracted by daily tasks. Work, bills, kids, money, stress, etc, often overshadow the fact that we have more freedom than we realize. I remember when I was self-employed and was stressing over living hand to mouth when a friend demonstrated an example of living in the moment and being grateful. After a few minutes upon arriving at his house he abruptly said, ‘Follow me.’ We exited his home and walked across the street where he sat on a small hill. He told me to sit with him as he stared slightly over the trees. We sat in silence for a few minutes then he turned to me and said, ‘This moment, right here, right now will never be the same.’ I must admit I was a little miffed.
He went on to point out the changing of the leaves, as it was Fall. The leaves were their most vibrant of colors just before they fell from the trees. The reds and yellows were picturesque. Basically, he was illustrating that we were witnessing a moment in time that could never be duplicated or relived. A few days later things would look completely different but we took the time to notice and enjoy the wonder of nature as the season changed. I instantly was less stressed and more calm. Such a simple break from self-absorption opened my eyes to the fact that we are so small and that so much exists outside of each of us. There is a difference between looking and seeing.
I recently took a trip to Denver to see a friend for his birthday. It is amazing that in these economic times, I was not only able to afford to but physically able to step onto a plane and in two hours be miles across the country. While I was there we took a trip out to Red Rocks which is roughly thirty minutes outside of the city. It is this amazing outdoor venue that has hosted events from music to film since the early 1900’s. The red color of the rock is due to the combination of the amount of iron and the natural weathering. It is no Grand Canyon but it is amazing what nature can do. Both are great illustrations of how small we are.
We all know right now times are tough. They are probably the worst I have seen in my lifetime, yet it is no Great Depression. There are many areas that are doing far worse than we are. In fact, there is always someone who has it worse than you. I had a horrific run of four years a while back and I am lucky I made it through. Once the smoke cleared I have not looked at things the same way. Suddenly the simple things meant so much. It reminded me how fortunate I am and that it could always be worse. I know my experiences pale in comparison to others but I certainly walked away with a new refreshed view on life.
I may not have a successful photography or writing career and I may have not found the love of my life, but I am thankful to even have a job when so many don't right now. Stability in an unstable world is monumental to well being. So much of it is about simply having a positive attitude. So often we get caught up in what we don't have instead of what we do. I know the American mentality is to want more, bigger, better, faster, etc but we also need to take a break and enjoy what we have. I may be a contradiction to the traditional American dreamer as I am trying to enjoy life along the way instead of killing myself to gain all I can then retire and enjoy it when I am old. What is the point in having when you don't enjoy it until later?
In the spirit of the month of traditional Thanksgiving I urge you to take a non-traditional vacation. It doesn’t have to be a costly trip to a far away place. Take a walk in the park, take a leisure drive in the country, or go to a movie by yourself. Be thankful for all the things you take for granted. There is nothing like loss to make you regret not appreciating what you had all along. In a temporary, uncontrollable and unpredictable world be aware that the very idea of a vacation is a luxury.