A complicated look at uncomplicated topics to ameliorate your day.
The Dictionary Definition of a Holiday…
holiday n. – 1. a period of time during which one takes a break from all regular daily activities and travels to another destination 2. Often taken during summer in a crowded place with thousands of other people and your own family and three kids and the dog where stress levels are escalated to the equivalent of end of financial year 3. An expensive interstate or overseas trip during which copious amounts of sightseeing, hiking, photos and alcohol are taken and consumed resulting in exhaustion and food poisoning upon return.
What the dictionary should say
Wander around any workplace or school yard or eavesdrop on any conversation on a train or in a cafe and the second most commonly uttered phrase you will hear is ‘god I need a holiday’*. There is no doubting in our increasingly busy world there is less and less time for rest and play, and the old adage ‘a change is as good as a holiday’ is getting more of a workout than was ever intended by the genius who thought that one up. Time for rest and relaxation is becoming something that we put aside to do when we have the time, or when we are older, or when we have enough money, or when we’re just not so busy. As much as we know we need it, we very rarely make taking a regular holiday and rest from the daily grind a priority.
The irony of all of this is the fact that when we do take that long awaited holiday we don’t actually rest or take a break. If you are someone who has taken a holiday in the last twelve months cast your mind back and see if you tick any of the following boxes
1. You took your mobile phone with you
2. You accessed the internet for non-travel related activities
3. You interrupted a meal or activity to answer a phone call or an email
4. You did work whilst on holiday You’re nodding to yourself aren’t you?
The mobile phone, and more recently the smartphone, is the arch-enemy of the holiday. For all of the ease and convenience of Google Maps over carting the A3 size Australian Road Map around, there is the pitfall of being constantly contactable. Whereas once our work and our home life couldn’t follow us on holiday, it now follows us everywhere, every day. Including to the toilet. There is nothing quite like the melodious PING! of an email from the boss interrupting a romantic stroll on the beach or the dulcet tones of the iPhone ringtone shattering the silence as you lay back and gaze at the stars, is there?
But we need our smartphones, because does anyone remember how we used to get around before our phones and Google Maps did all the thinking for us? Not only have they taken away our need for map reading and general problem solving skills, they have also depleted a major sector of the ‘Family Holiday Jokes’ book. Have you noticed that no one makes jokes about men not stopping to ask for directions anymore? Unbelievably, Australia is incredibly well signed, the Melways (and associates) and the Australian Road Map still exist, and you can find a tourist information centre in most major towns and cities so getting around without a smartphone is not only possible but actually quite easy.
But of course, the smartphone has a camera installed in it so we must take that with us to capture precious moments and share them instantly with the world, instead of actually stopping and appreciating them as they happen before us. Do you remember the last time you appreciated a sunset that was not through the screen of your phone? Naturally these things pale in insignificance next to our need to be constantly contactable. Our work lives are portable and all-consuming and our personal lives are constantly with us and in need of maintenance and attention, we are slaves to the little beeping devices in our pockets and if we don’t check in frequently, people wonder if we are dead. Time, business, economics, capitalism, snapchat and Facebook, it waits for no man and regardless of where you are in the world, you need to be available in case someone needs you to answer your phone or email and do something for them or laugh at their snapchat of their dog.
Unless you are the Queen of England or the Prime Minister of Australia (and if either of those good folk are reading this, then we have clearly well and truly made it), there is nothing that is going to happen whilst you are on holiday that someone else cannot fix, take care of, address or do themselves.
Before you begin to produce the long list of reasons as to why you are so important that you must be contactable at all times, consider this. You are no good to anybody if you are dead. Or confined to a hospital bed with exhaustion, gallstones or some other stress induced illness. Or in rehab with a substance abuse issue. Or hiding in your laundry cupboard and refusing to come out because you just can’t do it anymore.
Stop what you are doing. And take a holiday.
A holiday doesn’t need to be a change of location, although this helps break the daily grind and remove the temptation to just ‘do a load of washing’ while you’re resting. And a holiday doesn’t need to be somewhere exotic or expensive. A tent down the coast for a weekend will do the trick, or an overnight stay in a B & B an hour out of town, or a week interstate with a hire car, and a map and no other plans but to follow the bonnet. A holiday does not need to be planned with an army precision itinerary, or a to do/see/experience list longer than the weekly shopping list, it just has to be a break away from your daily life.
A holiday is a time where you put your need for rest and relaxation at the top of the list, and then you write nothing else on the list. Remove yourself from the daily grind, go somewhere new, get some fresh air and do nothing.
The next time you take a holiday, do the following:
1. Leave your mobile phone at home
2. Leave your laptop at home
3. Buy a roadmap
4. Take a notepad and a pen
5. Pack your camera
6. Be present, open your eyes, take a deep breath and live a little
*Don’t ask me what the most commonly uttered phrase is, I’d try to remember, but shit, I need a holiday…