I return from a month’s absence from these pages to reflect on the delights of time away. What is it that is so magnificent about a vacation, even from work that is engaging and meaningful? While time off can be filled with wondrous moments, I haven’t found these to be necessary in making a vacation beneficial. For me, it is the break in my routine that is essential, and what such a break brings my way.
I become so acclimated to my daily life that I cease to fully experience it. For example, we live in a particularly beautiful part of the world. I know the mountains that ring our town are amazing, and yet I become so accustomed to their presence that I no longer truly see them. One of the joys of having folks spend their vacations with us is that I borrow their eyes to behold what is here before me each and every day. And certainly one of the delights of leaving our small town on a vacation of my own lies in coming home to it, seeing it fresh once again.
In just this way, when I take a break from the routines of my life, I gain a perspective that allows me to return to them refreshed and open. I can see my life as it is, without the familiarity that leads me too often to take aspects for granted. And such a clarified vision may prompt a much needed evaluation. There have certainly been times in my life when the angst I felt at returning to a particular job, for example, powerfully signaled that an examination was in order. But whether I return with gratitude for the life I am blessed to live or an uneasiness that tells me it’s time for modification, I usually come back with a clearer perception than when I left.
Yet some vacations bring, along with the break in routine, special delights. This August, I spent nearly 2 weeks in Greece. There I found ancient traditions, beautiful terrain, a language new to me, foods I had never eaten and familiar ones prepared in novel ways, and a whole culture which differed from my own. I was exposed to fresh views of my own world and life in general, ways that I trust have become part of the weave~~at least in small part~~of who I now am.
When I am away from my routines, life takes on an immediacy. Everything is so there, vibrant and without the overlays bred of long acquaintance. And I am reminded that this intimate and vivid experience of life is the goal of any deep spiritual practice. I meditate to slough off the tendency to move through my days on autopilot, to better see what is with fresh eyes, to be more fully and richly present in each moment. These are the very things I value most about a vacation.
Meditation as a vacation from the routine of life? Yes, it seems so to me. And all without the expense and jet lag!
So, now I return to my life. The discipline of weekly writing is a part of that. Tomorrow I resume my work with folks who dig deep for healing and search for an enhanced awareness of their own lives. My wish is to better see, through eyes more thoroughly cleansed of preconceptions, the unique variations of Spirit reflected in each individual and in every interaction that arises between us. And, as always, I hope to more truly recognize and graciously welcome the guidance of that indefinable Other who always shares the room with us.
May your week, too, be full of moments of unbridled perception.