We near the end of the vacation and I sit at the kitchen table looking out over the lake and wonder – what did I accomplish? As I look I realize I have not once gone out on the boat, alone, and just enjoyed the beauty of God’s creation and had a time of meditation. I could have. So then, what kept me from doing so. Well, frankly, I slept about as long as the kids did. It would have been nice if I had gotten up earlier and taken some time alone on the lake. Yet, what would have to be sacrificed for me to do that? Answer? I couldn’t have stayed up until around midnight each night. That seems reasonable doesn’t it?
Solution # 1: I should have gone to bed earlier and got up a little earlier so that I could enjoy some time of meditation out on the Lake – problem solved (I’m swiping my hands together in a grand gesture of resolve). Yet, is the problem solved? Going to bed earlier would have meant I missed out on the games that we all played together as a family. It was a little ridiculous how late we stayed up each night playing Mafia, but nonetheless, it was an all family activity that I would have had to step away from so that I could function out on the boat in the morning and not just sleep on the boat out in the middle of the lake – granted the bright sun would likely have caused my sleep to be less comfortable than it would have been in bed.
Solution # 2: Go to bed late but get up earlier. That sounds nice and maybe a little idealistic. I’ve come to realize over the 40 years of my life that as much as I want to be a person who sleeps for 4-5 hours a night and wakes up refreshed and raring to go the next morning – I’m not! As much as I want to be that person, I’ve come to realize I need as close to 8 hours of sleep as possible. Otherwise, I will be falling asleep come about one hour after lunch, or the shortfall of that 8 hours will be made up in a nap after dinner. One way or another I will get those 8 hours of sleep.
Solution # 3: Fine then, get your 8 hours of sleep, but take some time during the day for yourself. I suppose this sounds reasonable, after all I am writing up this journal entry and instead could be out on the boat right now. I clearly have taken some time for myself or I wouldn’t have a journal entry for each day and hundreds of pictures that have been edited through Lightroom. So then, I suppose this, to a certain measure, is the solution that I most closely arrived at . . . and yet I would still say that what I’ve done on the computer – as I sit in the midst of my family eating breakfast and looking at the pictures with me – is not the same as going out in nature for personal reflection and meditation.
The Point of Vacation
So then, what is the point of vacation? A year ago, I recall having a conversation with our kids about how vacation was mostly my vacation. Before you get all high and mighty and think I’m being selfish – follow my reasoning. During the summer, nearly every day is “vacation” for my kids. They get to sleep in. They can pick and choose what they want to do most days. They go to bed late, play video games, bing on some Netflix videos (when allowed to go over their time), etc . . . On the other hand, I don’t ever get that time except for on vacation. Of course, I get a day here and there to lounge and relax, meditate and reflect, nap and binge watch; but only on vacation do I get that time in any sort of concentrated time. I cherish vacation for that purpose. Since the kids can have that during their summer break, I figure that vacation is more for Linda and I than it is for them. Yet I was rebuked by my loving daughter through my loving wife concerning this logic a few weeks before this vacation. My kids felt like all of vacation was focused around my comfort and that what they wanted to do was somewhat irrelevant. I thought that seemed a bit harsh – granted those words are my perception of their meaning not the actual words used. Either way, I didn’t like their perception and I wanted to think through whether that was fair or not. While I’m still not convinced that it is quite fair, I did want to purpose to avoid saying things that would communicate that during this vacation. I figured I’d avoid saying stuff like, “You get vacation all summer long, this is MY vacation.” Stuff like that I figured would be helpful to avoid.
So I did. This has been a family vacation. I’ve tried to spend time with the kids as they play on the beach or play Mafia in the living room or want to go tubing on the boat . . . and besides my journaling, picture taking, and a couple of naps, I’ve been fairly successful, and even those things I’ve chosen to do have added to the value of our family vacation. Of course I should allow Molly to offer an opinion on whether or not I was successful, but until then I’m going with this opinion.
So then, let me ask the question again, what is the point of a vacation?
Vacation is not a personal retreat. If vacation is a personal retreat, I failed miserably. I probably wouldn’t take my whole family on a personal retreat. Come to think about it, a personal retreat actually sounds quite profitable, but the purpose of this particular vacation was not to be a personal retreat. If I had attempted to make a family vacation a personal retreat I would have failed as a dad.
A family vacation is, ironically, about family and not so much about me. There is a part of me that thinks that stinks. I suppose there is always a little part of me that wants just about everything to be about me. I strive for my submission to the Spirit and the strength He gives to overpower and defeat that selfishness in me, but it is still present – sadly way more often than it should be. Therefore, I must view my family vacation as an opportunity to spend time with my family, engage in meaningful interaction, build lasting memories, model selflessness and grace, and the list goes on . . .
[Just a couple days after I wrote this, I enjoyed a blog post written by Tim Challies on the same topic, but he wrote it with a little different conclusion. Read it here. With that said, I actually really liked what he had to say and read it to my whole family. 🙂 ]