I’m Back

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I arrived home from Hawaii on a redeye flight this morning at 7:00 AM.

A Shuttle home. A quick shower. A cup of coffee, and I was on my way to the office for a full day of work.

I know I’ve been somewhat remiss this past week with my posts, but I’ll make it up.

And I hope you will do me the honor of allowing me one last nostalgic vacation post before turning the page.

But before that, some bookkeeping.

On the VB6 front, I weighed in at 195.6 pounds this morning. So almost down 5 pounds in one month, and 8.4 pounds in three months. Not bad.

But full disclosure, I would attribute about 2 pounds of this month’s weight-loss to VB6, and 3 pounds to stress. Life happens, but I guess I’ll take weight-loss anyway it comes.

Also, on vacation I did kind of a modified VB6. There were too limited options for vegan fare before six, so I really just focused on avoiding refined carbohydrates for breakfast and lunch.

In any case, I did a fair bit of thinking about vacation this week.

What does it mean? Is it a worthwhile pursuit? Where is the value? Where is the waste?

And I think there are really three aspects of vacation that stood out for me.

Aspect One: A Breath Of Fresh Air.

Granted vacation is an indulgence that most people cannot afford. But if you can afford it I think there is a great argument for pursuing concentrated leisure time.

Removing yourself to a foreign environment allows you to step away from your daily routine.

Your conventions are upended.

The rote mechanics of your daily life are replaced by new routines.

And there’s value in this.

For one thing I was much less attached to my iPhone this week. I would leave it in the hotel room and allow myself to just daydream on the beach. This was a welcome break from my own compulsions.

For another thing I could read some books. This allowed me to climb into other peoples minds which surely was good for my sense of empathy.

Whereas a normal day feels like a jam packed procession of kinetic activity, a vacation day feels like a sunny void waiting to be filled.

This change of scenery allowed me to work through my ongoing conflicts slowly instead of to try to battle them out decisively in an instant.

It allowed me some distance from my own conception of myself. I could better imagine myself as another imperfect character in an imperfect world filled with other imperfect characters. (as opposed to the right one fighting against the wrong ones.)

I gained a sense of perspective.

And somehow this all seems healthy and worthwhile, even now.

Aspect Two: The Sugar High.

Back to that indulgent part.

It occurs to me that a large part of the joy of vacation is the suspension of reality.

I locked myself and my family in an artificially maintained Shangri-La of others peoples labor.

Whereas my every day life is a constant string of weighings of the value of one proposition versus another, a vacation day is an endless string of possibilities.

A $12 mai tai? Or a $13 lava flow?

A $90 snorkeling cruise? Or a $200 helicopter ride?

It is the simple joy of not caring about money.

But is a dollar spent on vacation any less valuable than a dollar spent at home? Of course not.

A dollar of vacation money saved and invested buys the exact same aliquot of freedom as a dollar saved of every day money.

Seen in this light, vacation becomes a gigantic con job. A scheme to separate an honest laborer from his hard earned money. A marketer’s dream concept. Like the laughable (And disturbing) concept of spending a month’s salary on an engagement ring.

Aspect Three: Quality Time.

I’m not into the whole concept of “quality time:” The idea that concentrated activity in a small amount of time can make up for vast amounts of time not spent with your own family.

But when else, but on vacation, do I get to spend every hour of every day of a week with my family?   (Minus a few precious hours on the links.)

When do I get to go snorkeling with my oldest son for the first time?

When do I get to watch my newly front-toothless daughter diligently swim the crawl across a vast expanse of pool?

When do I get to watch my youngest boy in an inflatable vest get tossed around by the surf screaming the whole time “isn’t it funny?” in Japanese?

When do I get to get involved in their arguments, and watch them pretend to be squirrels?

When do I get to chop up Maui Gold pineapples and put the slices into hotel glasses and give it to them for a snack?

When do get to I watch them fall asleep (if I don’t fall asleep first?)

Never, that’s when.

And even if I assiduously saved 90% of my income and decided to forgo vacations, I would never be able to spend a week with the 4, 6, and 13-year-old incarnations of my children.

Which I think is the ultimate argument for the indulgence of vacation.  The isolation forces us to spend time together.  No play dates.  No quick meetings.  No soccer games.

Just the five of us, together, in a slightly foreign environment.

Which makes me doubly happy that I’m a travel Hacker as well as an early retirement enthusiast.  I can have my cake and eat it too.

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