Vacation: The Time Away From You can be The GREATEST Time For You
"Appreciation is a wonderful thing: It makes what is excellent in others belong to us as well." Voltaire
Vacationing at the beach is a spectacular place to leave yourself behind. That's what I learned this summer.
The Beach, like all spectacular breath-taking locales…the Grand Canyon,
Like this Asian temple built on rocks in the sea.... there is power and serenity to it that just takes you right out of your mind.
It’s like a built-in escape or meditation just for showing up.
This summer I had a vacation that I suppose you could say was literally an escape.
My wife and 2 little ones went to Surf City New Jersey.
There was a hurricane coming up the coast far enough out that it didn’t shut down the beaches. But it did provide riptides that were stronger than ever with waves hitting 6 to 7 feet, which is pretty high for NJ. The lifeguards gave us a narrow swath of beach maybe 3 suburban houses wide where we could go out. And as soon as someone strayed the boundary, the whistles were sounded. There were lots of whistles.
The water was rough but It made for some great boogie boarding though.
The tide pull was a workout just to walk out or swim to a spot. But nearly every ride propelled a boogie boarder 100 yards or more up on to the beach.
When standing in chest high water looking out at a wave that seems another 10 foot above my head and coming toward me, I realized everything personal becomes temporarily meaningless.
Or said in another way: All thoughts stop except for the negotiating the current.
You have to be fully present when nature is coming at you like that.
So there is no room for anything else. Me and the water. Oh and the boogie board.
It occurred to me that's the essence of vacation.
Vacate our minds, our worries, our needs, our ailments, our attachements. ourselves. Leave history behind and forget the future.
Optimally we're supposed to replenish, renew and reenergize.
And this beach on this day in dealing with rough currents and big waves it worked perfectly.
There could be no personality involved.
You can’t plead, hope to change, intimidate, seduce, guilt or persuade nature. A winning or awful Personality is of no use here. The big wave is going to come regardless. And you don't have to wait too long.
No one has any power over this oncoming force of nature. You simply go with it.
I realized how free I was to just let go of me, or my usual fears, thoughts, concerns.
A concern is something you have to time to contemplate and realize something potentially bothersome could happen. This is simply being aware, moving, adapting and flowing. Everything is happening live in real time.
Whatever I walked in to the ocean with emotionally: Gone.
If I was mad at my wife, or disappointed by breakfast, sad that my daughter didn't want to come out, thinking about doubts and worries. It leaves under a wave.
For those moments I’m here without my usual stuff.
During this vacation I notced something fresh. Something more authentic:
I get excited over small things. Like my daughter kicking a soccer ball or or an award winning frozen Key Lime pie in dark chocolate. Yes they actually have that at the Key West Grill.
How liberating it is to leave behind the big heavy adult worries and questions they ask in the ads like will I have… “Financial security for retirement? Is my home safe from burglars? Is Monsanto going to poison us for profit? How am I really going afford to send my kids’ to college?” All the things that stir angst in the pit of my stomach. Those are all left in the wake.
When I'm in the water, It’s enough for me to negotiate each moment in the current. That’s all I can do.
And I then a larger perspective seeps in.
Even if Bill Gates, Peyton Manning, Beyoncé, the annoying guy down the street, an African refugee, your favorite uncle or the president standing right there: It wouldn’t matter...Everyone is the same in the ocean dealing with big waves.
No one’s prestige, awards, self-worth, accomplishments, disappointments, misdeeds, failures, desires, amount of money earned or lost has anything to do to handle the current. It’s just human and nature converging.
I laugh that it’s called a current. In the current moment all there is – is being and dealing with this right now.
I get to wipe my slate clean.
I’m temporarily erased and anonymous. I get closer to the question of what if I wasn't always me? With all my beliefs and thoughts about myself and what I can and cannot do.
Cos the ocean doesn’t care either
if it’s me or secretary of state.
Only a few rare times in my life, once at a great yoga class, or underneath the stars in Maui trying to meditate have, I felt as calm, relieved of burden and connected to something larger than myself.
I wasn’t the ME of me’s anymore with all my history of experiences, beliefs and self-baggage or self worth. I was just small me in the big ocean.
I converged, submerged and emerged with those crazy long flying boogie board
rides. And then I merged into the adoring dad who got to serve up some long rides to my 5 and 8 year old daughters. I reveled in their surprise and delight as they got up off their board and waved back at me and how far they just went.
And then came a gem of discovery in that joyful celebration of my kids. While “vacating” and being in the “current”....I could be a different me. A better me. The me I aspired to be.
Where I would normally get upset or worried at something I don’t.
Someone smoking at the beach where my kids are playing, I'd usually be upset. Now I'm cool. People being rude in a take out line. I'm chill. Someone cutting me off on the road for no apparent reason. I'm all right.
Normally I'd be angered or agitated like I’m being taken disrespected. But I'm just not buying into it. I am answering the question "What if I wasn't always me?"
Makes me wonder why I have to hold on to these belief that gets me upset anyway? Can I free myself of my beliefs that rile me up?
What if my desire were to be easier going in my life? I may be doing everything I can to be that way and then my car needs to go into the shop and I’m reactive to the price the garage hits me with. I fall back into the upset pattern of anger "at being taken advantage of" and miss my goal to be more easily going.
When I was standing in the ocean trying to catch the wave I had to be in the right position to do it. If I wasn't exactly right or I mistimed it I miss the ride.
And there's a useful metaphor there for me.
Let’s say my goal is to boogie board in all the way to the beach. But I’m standing in high tide facing toward the beach.
The big waves are coming in behind me and I know they’re coming but I’m not positioned to use them effectively. In fact I’m missing them altogether.
My old patterns and ingrained stance (beliefs) have me looking toward the beach trying to catch the wave in. And I don't ever realize I'm facing the wrong way...
If I can’t see clearly my stance (belief) is hindering or preventing the goal I seek I’m only left to react after I've failed. The waves I'm trying to catch are being missed, assuring unwanted or unexpected results like getting knocked around or thrown into the bottom of the wave. I'm assuredly getting frustrated or pissed off.
I’m always recovering from guessing and mistiming every new wave and still missing again. All because my “stance” is not serving me. So it appears in this metaphor all I have to do is switch my stance and change my position to better achieve my goal.
If it were only that simple.
A belief or ingrained stance is like a boulder. It carries a lot of weight and is not easily moved. We accept it and just act around it, because there's nothing to be done about it. In my case above I'll keep getting hit in the head by the wave and knocked down into the bottom and get upset. My belief won't let me see another way to be.
If I could just face myself (judgments) in the "right" direction (make sure they’re surfing me (really awful pun I'm sorry I couldn't resist, I"m gonna punch my own arm for that one) I could easily adjust and move in the current that will take me where I want to be.
But it’s so true how what’s already accepted subconsciously is rarely reexamined or considered for re-valution. It's usually "Oh I don't do that or I can't do that or that's not me."
Maybe our goals have changed, maybe we’ve changed, but our beliefs have us holding fast to a position (potentially the wrong way) and we can’t be (on the) current. Maybe we kind of sense it building up, but the stance is so ingrained… we find we don't move.
And that’s why vacation is so great. And why this one was REALLY great for me. We’re away from the usual. Away from the same routine. Away from the usual same place that doesn’t challenge our stance.
If we vacate to something new maybe we see new. We live new. We leave our attachments and investments behind ever so briefly. We’re ever so briefly escape
into the open. We make space, we have space.
I have to say it's pretty awesome to see anew.
To clear the palate of the mind. Maybe allow something fresh in that carries us to a new place for us. A new and better realization. A more optimum path more in line with who we are now…and not who we were. Who we want to be and shed the parts we know we don't want anymore.
I used to see vacaton as a luxury. Something I couldn't always afford to do.
After this I see vacation is not a luxury. It’s something essential.
A vacation is a celebration of new moments. It lets us go from the past for that short bit of time. It offers you the “current” to join in on. And the more in the current you can be the opportunity for great shifts can be made in addition to the great joy to find there.
You don’t have to actually go on vacation to dive into the current. But if you can, do. As often as possible. Maybe I’ll see you there. In fact you probably will.
Remember you are Extraordinary,
Michael Sage Schindler