“Well now class, what did we learn over summer vacation?” asked nearly every teacher in America. How many times have we heard a variation of that question? It’s a rite of passage from seasonal leisure to those back-to-school, nose-to-the-grindstone cycles of life.
There’s been lots of talk about vacations in recent weeks, especially when it comes to the schedule for the President of the United States. Can you believe it? The Leader of the Free World, taking vacation? With all the chaos heating up around the globe?!
Yes. And I don’t blame the nation’s top taxpayer-funded employee for taking some R&R. Every President has done so, some more than others, but all deserve the time off. Besides, there’s no getting away from the 24/7 since the White House apparatus goes along with the Boss. They are never away from the job, aging before our eyes.
I prefer a well-rested politician (regardless of party) to one who prides him or herself in working sleep-deprived. These are the people who control the nukes, after all. So, rest up, one and all!
Taking the occasional holiday is a good thing, if used strategically and systematically. Still, many Americans pride themselves in the vacation hours they don’t use… as if non-vacation is a badge of honor. But research shows even a short “mental vacation” (or nap) is better than no time off at all.
Sometimes it can seem like too much getaway time works in a counter-productive way. The first day back to work may create a feeling of being drained of all of the benefits… bringing on thoughts of, “Really! Was vacation a good idea?” Again, yes.
Case in point: This year during our annual family gathering at Big Bear Lake (a long weekend during August) I was reminded of all this in a charming, simple moment.
It was early morning and I had just walked out onto a balcony area outside the cabin. It was a nice, tranquil situation…until a little voice surprised me.
There was one of our four-year-old grandsons, ready to share something obviously very important. (I’ll pause while you note, “Mark, you’re too young to have grandkids!” Thank you.)
He looked at me with a sweet smile and said, “Bompa, how about if we just sit here and enjoy the view?”
Enjoy the view. Timeless wisdom, out of the mouths of babes.
The funny thing is, I thought I was doing just that, originally planning to plunk down with some encouraging reading and a hot cup of great coffee. But that little man snapped me into an immediate reassessment of my surroundings. Definitely one of those stop-and-smell-the-roses moments.
The lake suddenly looked a little more blue, the clouds a little more puffy and interesting. There were birds that appeared more varied, the scene more serene. Even the air seemed fresher.
As the wise Mini One climbed up into the “mountain home chic” two-seats-wide rocking chair, we started talking about what we could see out there. A water skier taking an early run across the placid lake surface. A biplane overhead, along with a few unusual bugs floating around the trees. There was a squirrel running on a wire and a woodpecker banging his head against a pine somewhere in the woods.
Suddenly we were joined by The Wise Child’s cousin, insisting on climbing into the now crowded rocker with us, saying that he too wanted to “enjoy the view.”
So much for what I thought the morning would be like. I reflected on that line again: Why don’t we just sit here and enjoy the view.
As I laughed to myself, thinking “OK, God, I get what you’re teaching me here,” the whole situation moved into Charlie Brown mode. The kids began rattling off what certain clouds looked like.
Some looked as if they were racing the others. All we needed was Snoopy … though I believe I may have seen him in a cumulous tower above.
What a marvelous lesson. It immediately sharpened my sense of beautiful creation around me and made it feel like vacation time lasted so much longer. Stress melted away, gratefulness grew.
I also found myself watching the children more closely, enjoying the view of their innocent, eager faces. In my imagination I could see them all grown up, with little ones of their own. It was a stark reminder of how fast time goes by in life.
Enjoy the view, indeed.
— by Mark Larson
Larson is a veteran Southern California radio/television personality and media consultant. His voice is heard on KPRZ 1210AM, and his weekday talkshow airs 6-9 a.m. on KCBQ 1170AM. Learn more at www.marklarson.com.