Vacation from What?
Go Sit by Another Stream of Consciousness
Joanne Sales / July 6, 2008
The word “vacation” comes from the Latin (1350-1400)
“vacatio”, meaning “freedom from something.”
Seeing vacation as “freedom from” opens the door to
many more vacations.
Once, I took a vacation from talking to my husband. We’d
already been married for 20 years. I had by that time accumulated
a whole closet full of pushable buttons, dead end rants and circular
complaints. One day, I realized, I am so sick and tired of hearing
myself talk. What a nag! Ugh. So I followed the advice of one
of the very first gurus of the Boomer generation, Thumper, from
Bambi. The feisty rabbit with a loose cannon mouth was corrected
by his mother. Scratching his animated itches, Thumper responded,
“If you can’t say nothin’ nice, don’t
say anything at all.”
So I didn’t . For 21 days, I didn’t speak to my husband.
At the dinner table, I might tell the kids, “Please tell
you dad bla bla bla.” (He was sitting right there.) My husband
says it was 21 of happiest days of his life. And to be quite honest,
I had fun to.
That was a vacation. It might be called a “pattern interrupt.”
I didn’t like the way the stream was flowing, so I built
a temporary dam to give it an opportunity to find a new course.
And it did. Changing patterns is one of the great gifts of vacations.
No petrol needed - no carbon footprint.
“How could you take a vacation without going anywhere?”
A 21-year-old answered: Hide your cellphone, Blackberry and computer;
read for two hours a day; do a lot of nothing. A 30-year-old answered:
Unplug. A 60-year-old answered: Spend whole days doing what you
never find time to do. Read, draw, meditate, write, or sit in
A 100-year-old woman was asked how she had lived through the tumultuous
20th century so happily. “I would have been a fool not to
worry. So I worried hard every day, for 20 minutes. After that,
I was done.”
These are vacations that celebrate “freedom from.”
Freedom from intrusions, expectations, limitations, worries, and
of course, freedom from habits. Oh those habits! We do something
once, time passes, and next thing we know, we’ve done it
for the millionth time. Unfortunately, we often think “habits-r-us.”
We identity with the things we do and think and rant about.
I grew up next to three radio towers. In the 50s, I watched over
the towers for the invasion of the Russians and the arrival of
Santa Claus. But really what was coming from that direction were
radio waves. Songs in, songs out. Babble in, babble out. No filters.
That’s how most opinions come to us. We hear them, adopt
them, cling to them. A fine bumper sticker reads: “Don’t
believe everything you think.” Some thoughts are just passing
through, like radio waves. Some habits are just as arbitrary,
but they cling to us like wet bluejeans and are sometimes hard
Consider this. For 21 days, do everything differently. Get up
two hours earlier - or later. Change your food, hair style, and
color of your socks. Answer the phone in a new way. Sing on the
stairs. Move furniture. Walk somewhere else. Call your siblings.
Write with a pencil.
We often try to change habits that we judge as “bad.”
But here, we are just shaking the box. No judgment. Superficial
changes. But superficial changes can have profound consequences.
As we loosen our identification with and attachment to how we
do things, we become aware that those patterns are not “us.”
This awareness opens up all sorts of new choices and freedoms.
At this point, we can ask with sincerity, how ELSE could I be
living this life?
It is really fascinating to meet truly alternative humans, who
live life in a radically different way from the rest of us. I
took a short vacation recently. One of the humans we met in our
travels was a Indian yogi who roams the world in a pink sheet,
similar to Gandhi. Quiet, simple, kind, profound. A truly alternative
His message resonates with most spiritual traditions. We’re
already on a journey. Planet Earth is a vacation destination.
No need to go someplace else; we are someplace else. And the greatest
realm for adventure is right here, right now - and in the vast
frontier of mind and heart.
Quite often, it’s our own rattling minds that we want to
take a vacation from, but when we get in the car, our minds go
with us! Actually, it’s only the left side of the brain
that gets miserable and bossy. The right brain is blissed out
anywhere. It’s unlikely that the right brain will become
one of the top ten vacation destination spots anytime soon, but
when we think of that perfect peaceful place, it’s most
likely the perfect peace and not the place that we want. And perfect
peace is here, there and nowhere in particular.
Sometimes all we really want is to sit by another stream of consciousness.
Even though we have a long spiral staircase to climb, we get high
with every step in the right direction. And none of this requires
even a single litre of gas!