I am not exactly sure when it happened, but my best bet would be somewhere in the mid to later 90’s. For any of us that view ourselves as driven, successful, motivated, serious, professional, committed, or any of the other classic buzz words one could choose, it became taboo to use the “v” word. Yes, the vacation word – the admission that you had the audacity to step away, to relinquish the blackberry and connectivity, to consciously choose to not be accessible. Make no mistake, I am not talking about “stepping away for a long weekend”, or “having limited access to phone and email”. No, I am talking about the full blown week plus of purposely turning off the cell and not taking the laptop. Totally checking out AND doing it while in the continental United States.
I feel as if I just went through confession. I admitted to violating the rules of our hyper drive society. My goodness, I did not even look, listen, read, or hear any infotainment/news for seven wonderful days. Clearly I admit a degree of torn loyalty and personal conflict about the decision. This is hardly the time or environment to be taking time away. Business is tough for everyone. The economy is – well the economy. People are loosing jobs, money is tight, dreams have been shattered and fortunes lost. None the less, I did it. I went on vacation. A serious no contact vacation for an extended period – an entire week.
And what happened you ask – nothing, and I mean that in the best possible way. The team in the office carried the load with no problems. Clients understood because I had set the expectation. The sun rose, the winds blew and the economy hummer, or rather sputtered, along without me being “right there”. It was truly an enjoyable week. It was also a very serious lesson in life and business, health and happiness, ego and worth. Everything, absolutely everything will continue to happen. Life does go on. It goes on with or without you, and it goes on with or without me. The ego does not like that so much – humbling stuff regardless of who you are, what you have done, or how important society tells us we might be.
Here is the truly guilty piece – it was nice, fun, and above all relaxing. Relaxing in a way that I have not found in the Islands of the Caribbean, in Europe, at resorts, on the slopes, or on any previous “vacation”. It was a deep to the core sense of peace, of rest, of finding the inner self, of discovering a lost sense of self and family. Ironic how that week had me in the high desert of the Mojave. There is truly a reason that indigenous cultures have traditions of people going into the desert to challenge their faith or to come of age. There really is something about those areas.
So there it is. I admit I did it, I took a vacation and I am better for it. There is value in not being “on” or “available” all the time. I view it somewhat as one could view advertising. Sometimes the results are quantifiable – so many views of a marketing piece by so many people results in a certain percentage of business. And sometimes it just cannot be quantified – everyone knows it is working, but it just cannot be broken down to an exact number. Same goes for taking a full blown vacation. You cannot do it all the time, and you certainly cannot do it every time. However sometimes you have to do it because, well it just simply works. Not sure why, not sure exactly how, but it just does – you come back a better person on all levels.