We don’t need vacation advice. We need forgiveness for going on vacation.
Maybe you’re like me and struggle with going on vacation. It isn’t easy to leave work or home. Packing the car and getting away long enough to forget about the other stuff. So we go looking for vacation advice.
Or maybe it’s worse.
When your job is like mine: caring for the church and the lives of other people of faith and you vacation with others in the same boat. For me, vacationing with my parents, sister and her family, always gets into church talk. It’s really hard to avoid talking shop when shop is something we all have in common.
We’re surrounded with all sorts of vacation advice and I’m starting to think all this advice is really, really unhelpful.
- It always starts with the helpful tips for planning the right vacation.
- Then moves into how to use your electronic devices to optimize your vacation.
- And how to avoid using those devices while on vacation.
- There’s the best summer reads, travel tunes, and destinations.
Always the best, optimal, top. We’re always making the most of and trying to avoid wasting time, money, or opportunities.
Vacation is competitive, even if it’s not about our neighbors. It’s competitive with time and the very nature of reality.
Frankly, I’m overloaded with all the advice, even the advice I give myself.
Frankly, we don’t need any more vacation advice. We get it from everywhere and most especially from ourselves.
We need forgiveness.
All this vacation advice and self-inflicted anxiety over making this the best vacation ever is constant.
But this pressure isn’t the sickness, but the symptom.
The real pressure we put on ourselves around vacation is the pressure to never take vacation. This is certainly an American phenomenon they don’t feel in Europe. Not in the same way.
We struggle with being OK with taking vacation and with accepting that vacation is necessary. Or that it is good for us.
The American Protestant Work Ethic kicks in and we find ourselves thinking that hard work is everything, effort is the ballgame. Get out there and hustle. Don’t break the chain!
There are so many things on our plates, we can’t step away from them. Not if we want them to keep spinning. They’re delicately balanced on our fingers and noses and toeses, we need a partner to help spin them all! Don’t let them drop and make a mess! We’ll never get back to this point again!
So worried by all the spinning we never stop to ask why we’re spinning plates full food at all. Food we can’t eat when we’re so busy spinning the plates.
Food we can’t serve our families.
We need forgiveness.
For ourselves and one another.
1. Forgiveness: for our health.
2. Forgiveness: for our work.
Research has long proven that worker productivity drops off before we get to that magic number of 40-hours-per-week. And accelerates when we go over it. It is not only bad for our health to push ourselves this way, it is bad for our work and will likely backfire on both.
3. Forgiveness: for our decisions.
Nearly all of us have to negotiate our time away. So we have to ask for it. But we also have too many opinions about how others use their time off or their availability. Rather than make it easier for each other to have the time we need, we make it too easy to avoid the negotiation and not take the time. A more generous view of time for one another, and especially for the one who struggles to take the time off is essential.
4. Forgiveness: for our schedules.
Part of our struggle with vacation and all the vacation advice we get is that we are busy! Our schedules are so tight and prescribed, we are bound to miss something. Particularly those locked into specific times and days in their work. There are better ways to understand our time, our work, and how we bring our best to our work.
5. Forgiveness: for our families.
I was told never to use my family as an excuse. Several times I have had to negotiate phone interviews with crying children, family vacations, and other challenges of life. Nearly always to disastrous effects. Because these were the only times. So it is clear work is first on their schedule. And my own desperation for work has led me to cut into my family for that one value: work before family. Even when all those people on the other end of the line would actually want it the other way.
6. Forgiveness: for our spirituality.
For those people whose faith is born from the Abrahamic tradition, there is a clear understanding of vacation and work our misguided Protestant Work Ethic has long ignored. Rest is holy. Work isn’t the only mark of faith: it is also rest. Why? As the holy one names in Genesis, because GOD rested, we rest.
But rest isn’t the last word from this tradition. Weekly rest, annual rest, Sabbatical rest every 7 years, Jubilee rest every 7 x 7 years. Rest and…
Justice. Rest and…
Health. Rest and…
Sharing with the poor. Rest and…
Joy. Rest and…
Shalom. Peace, equality, justice.
Forgive yourself. And your coworker.
No matter what you believe, about life and what’s important, it is clear that vacation is necessary. And in too short a supply for many of us.
And while many will focus on how to do it right or get the most out of it, the point isn’t to “win” at vacation. It’s to just be.
The point of vacation is vacation. And too few of us get it.
You and I don’t need more vacation advice. We need to help each other out. And make time away something all of us has more of.
And for those of us who get (relatively) generous vacation from our work, we must do more to help each other actually take vacation.
How will you make the people around you feel more free to take vacation?
[If you want to learn more about taking our time more seriously, I recommend the people at Take Back Your Time.]