It’s officially autumn. The summer of 2014 is behind us, and we have a good 38 weeks before those warm, lazy days come around again. I usually accept this seasonal shift wholeheartedly, with an onward and upward attitude! But this year, that doesn’t seem to be the case. Instead, I find myself experiencing some sort of inner tug or rebellion. Visions of being somewhere peaceful, stress free and away from it all flood my brain. I don’t consider myself an escapist or a slacker, but for some reason, some part of me is not ready to let go of what I’ve come to call my vacation space.
By vacation space, I am not referring to a specific destination or locale, but rather a mindset or lifestyle where we feel calm, free and in tune with life. Think about the feelings associated with a quintessential summer day or an idyllic vacation. Do happy and carefree come to mind? Or what about the French word joie de vivre?
Are you starting to see my quandary? The summer is over. Kaput. Finished! Squirrels are stockpiling seeds and nuts. Days are getting shorter. Ragweed is in bloom! Mother Nature is hinting at the start of a new season, yet some part of me is refusing to face facts.
I am not exactly sure what lies behind this internal resistance. Maybe it’s because this summer went by so quickly? Or the fact that last winter was a harsh one, and a similar one may lie ahead? Maybe it’s our household having to adjust to the rigorous and structured rhythm of my son’s competitive high school? Or it could also have something to do with middle-aged malaise? Most likely, it is a little of all of the above and then some.
I can assure you that this is not a Peter Pan complex. I accept adulthood and love being a parent! But something is amiss, and for peace of mind, I need to straighten it out. Fortunately, this inner dissent doesn’t seem to have interfered with my responsibilities of managing a home, parenting an active teenager, and holding down a job and other professional endeavors. At the same time, I don’t think it would be wise to ignore this yearning for a more peaceful and carefree existence. If I did that, I am certain it would come back to bite me. So, I am making a conscious effort to carve out some social and private time for myself.
As I see it, the best solution is to make time for both: strike a balance between fulfilling the obligations and responsibilities of our busy lives and giving myself a little quality downtime. Naturally, this scenario is easier said than done. Responsibilities and commitments are straightforward. I know what it takes for my home and work to run smoothly. Longings, on the other hand, are elusive and trickier to satisfy. A cigar is not always a cigar, even though sometimes it can be. Joking aside, I know how to remedy this situation, but sometimes need to remind myself to do it.
It requires stepping away from the regular routine — whether the “to do” list has been completed or not — and eliminating any distractions or commotion. There is no room for multi-tasking here or thinking five steps ahead. This is about being in the moment, and connecting and engaging with life, nature and the people and beings around me. The easiest way for me to do that is through simple, pleasurable activities, such as yoga, hiking in nature, browsing in a bookstore, meeting a friend for coffee, going for an ice cream with Harry or just simply listening to music. Such experiences are satisfying on a personal level. They focus on the task at hand and my interaction with it. While they may be just fleeting moments of happiness, they resonate deeply. They provide gratification and remind me of the joys of living. I know I’m not alone in my reaction. Sort of like the sunny side of life, they make it easier to deal with the obligations, commitments, and more challenging sides of life.