Thursday, May 05, 2011

The "Do" and the "Be" Vacation

I have been extraordinarily lazy on this vacation. For years, as I have taken these generally yearly trips overseas, I have written a daily, or several times daily, journal so my mother, who simply could not travel, would be able to experience the trip with me. Since these travels were always to see family, I would often write about domestic issues, different ways of doing the most ordinary of things in such disparate places as Colombia, Australia, Canada, France, London, and even New York City. This was my special gift to her, to let her travel with me as I used our shared love of writing to give her as much of the experience as possible.

With her death this past September, I find that I re-live how very much I miss her when I think "Oh, I must tell her about this--she'd be fascinated!" And, she is not here to read my words.  I no longer have the deep stabs of grief, just the general sense of missing her and knowing that this provided her so much pleasure.  But it also means I have most definitely slacked off in my writing.

However, there is more to my laziness than just that.  There are both "do" vacations and "be" vacations.  We who live in the US, who are really more "human doings" than human beings, experience most of our vacations as "do" vacations.  We have specified places we need to be at a certain time, certain things that we plan to do, sights to see, schedules to keep, all even on vacation.  Nothing wrong with that, of course, except so often people come back from vacations even more fatigued and less refreshed than when they left.

This time in London has been for me a very much "be" vacation.  As I was preparing for the trip, I had thoughts about wanting to see certain things and go to certain destinations. But after I arrived, and let the fatigue that has been dogging me for months have its full reign, I put down all plans.  Although by habit, I have put on my watch each morning, I have not looked at it once.  I have not turned on my phone except for an hour recently when I walked to a nearby store to pick up something for Adriana and needed to phone her when I couldn't find it, so no longer have it's ubiquitous time stamp looking at me multiple times a day when I would get a call or message or need to check email.

When it is time for Adriana to go pick up the children or take care of some shopping, I either go with her if I feel like it and am ready to walk out the door, or I don't.  If I go, I enjoy it.  If I don't, I sit in the quiet house and read and think or perhaps, should I feel expecially energetic, clean up the kitchen or take a walk in the nearby woods or on the wandering, pretty streets here.  For my walks, I leave when I leave and I get back when I get back, and don't worry about it otherwise.

After a week here, my body clock, always slow to adjust fully to time changes, finally permitted me to fall into a sound sleep around last night 10:00 p.m. (4 p.m. Central Time).  I woke at 3 a.m., very alert, and enjoyed a long, leisurely time of prayer before falling back into a restful three more hours of sleep, awaking to the sounds of the children playing and laughing--possibly the most joyous sounds ever made.

I have been in charge of so much for so long, that to be in charge of nothing, except to decide, "perhaps today would be a good day to wash a few clothes" is incredibly refreshing.

Tomorrow, (Friday), I know that Jonathan and Adriana must take Joshua to the US Embassy in London to have his passport renewed.  Joshua turns five in just over a week, and the passport issued at his birth becomes invalid at that point.  Unlike adults who only have to renew every 10 years, children, for good reason, must renew every five years.  I'll probably go with them, just to experience London proper one more time, but also feel very free not to, should I wish. 

And after a week of being fed only the most healthy and exquisitely prepared food, and with the resumption of long, leisurely walks, I have a sense of health returning.  Great joy to be had here!

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