Sunday, August 07, 2005

The Joy of Vacation

I just returned from a vacation. Two weeks in beautiful Glacier National Park. I spent the time with some friends hiking in the back country, away from work, technology, the concerns of daily life. It was a great reprieve from the ordinary.

Two weeks is important as far as vacation times go. I've heard it said, and maintain the philosophy to this day, that two week vacation is really the minimum time one should spend on a trip in order for it to be considered true time off.

There are several reasons for this. The first, being that one doesn't really stop thinking about work, etc. for at about a week. There's always that little piece of work left on one's desk that seems to sit in the back of one's mind, calling, whispering, trying to gather the brain's attention for just one more moment of processing. It takes a week for that thinking to just be deprioritized.

The best way, in my opinion, to help along this depriorization process is to keep one's brain very busy (or at least very tired) through a lot of activity. Spend the first week going to the museums, walking the streets, seeing the sights and enjoying the food. Exhaust one's self.

Now, the second week comes along. One has seen many of the sights, walked dozens of miles, and pretty much worn out feet, limbs, etc. Normally people who only take a week off have to head back to work come Monday. But those who still have that next week off can begin to relax. Now is the time to go to a cafe and enjoy a three hour coffee whilst reading a novel. It's the week to enjoy sitting on a porch and savoring a well earned beer while watching the world go by.

That first week as taken all the thoughts of work and the real world and replaced them with the new experience, the sights and sounds of the foreign place. It broadens the horizons and opens up new avenues of thinking. It makes for a wonderful time to starting thinking of new projects, such as ideas for that business one would like to start, or a new novel, or a new painting, or, perhaps, just a new way to rearrange the furniture.

This leads to a question: how are people supposed to have the ability to take this extended vacation and still be able to take time off for the little things. The majority of US companies only give two weeks of vacation. Employees need to start working towards getting more vacation, instead of working towards more money. A large portion of quality of life seems to come from quantity of free-time, not just quantity of free spending cash.

As for me, I find that after a vacation, my writing level tends to spike. I get about four good months before things start to fall off. So a two week vacation every six months seems to be a really good idea.

Oh, where to go next...

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