For the last two weeks of August, I tried to relax. Vancouver’s breezy summer is wonderful,
and every island hotel in the vicinity is booked. So I settled for a vacation in the city. It rains nonstop in the fall, but in the summer, it’s perfect.
At first I was worried I’d end up watching Netflix if I didn’t plan activities but then I realized that summer is laid back, and events will unfold themselves with the right people.
I read that people with perfect lives don’t go on vacation because what a vacation is, is an escape from normal life, and if your normal life is great then you’d stay.
Now I realize: the kind of life I like is stressful. It’s making plans for tomorrow. Knowing what’s happening six months down the road but not planning it until the very last minute. It drives me nuts but it means I don’t have to plan.
And if I thought for a second that this kind of “normal” could last me years on end, then I would be batshit crazy.
People ask where I get my drive and motivation, and I say “discipline” but it’s deeper than that—I think we should all learn to manage our limited energy and attention and create lifestyles where we thrive.
We have a limited amount of energy everyday—we use so much energy when we work.
When we take a break, we are giving our minds a quick refresher—this is like a mini vacation. The time you sit at the piano, go to the gym, or jog around the neighbourhood, or do anything for yourself, is time for your mind and body to reset and return to equilibrium for the day.
During a lumohacks meeting, we are laughing at an inside joke:
“Excuse me,” a guy at a table across the room says. “Can you not laugh so loud when it’s unnecessary?”
“Okay,” I say. But it’s low and lasts five seconds.
“Sass master,” Marinah says.
Later, the same guy asks to borrow my laptop charger; I should’ve asked for $4 per minute (basically a green tea latte–once your minute is up, goodbye).
“Stop laughing so loud when it’s unecessary?” We laugh loudly at this.
And I think how important it is to laugh at ourselves especially when we are having a hard time.
Otherwise, we might get bogged down and forget what we love about what we do.
Drive and motivation come from a long-term energy reserve. This is different from your daily energy span. What makes a piano teacher stay with a student even after their lesson? What makes an Olympic athlete train in the rain? What makes a doctor study patient reports during lunch hour? What gives you that extra push? Your long-term energy reserve.
Over time, you are cluttering this energy reserve with stress and worry. You are also depleting this energy and yet we often don’t notice until we burn out.
To refresh this energy, your mind needs a huge pattern interrupt from what it has been exposed to. Something completely different to get rid of the stress and unsolved problems. That is why, even people with the most perfect lives become inundated and crave a different life.
We call this a vacation, and it is absolutely necessary to maintain a healthy mind and body.
And so, we shouldn’t shame ourselves for wanting escape from our lives, to take a break from the very things we “love” doing that we’ve dedicated our entire lives and careers towards.
So I’m happy with what I’ve been able to accomplish this summer. I needed a long break; I didn’t have goals and it turned out fine. I played beach volleyball a few times and got sunburnt and hiked up a mountain.
Remember: vacation also means you are free to stop comparing yourself to others. Because you are good enough.
Give yourself the love you deserve once in a while, and if you loosen your grip a little, things might work themselves out.