Every so often, someone returns from a vacation and laments (reluctantly and with a tinge of whimsical regret) that it is time to get back to reality. I certainly have said that before.
When we refer to the end of a vacation as a return to reality, that suggests that the vacation itself is not reality in a different time and place. It also implies that reality is that time we exist in between vacations. So, a vacation is an escape from reality and hence, a vacation is not real. How then, will the supposed therapeutic effect of a vacation be sustainable, if it is not reality?
Everything is a matter of perspective. It’s all up there in between two holes, in our minds.
I recently took two family trips – one in November with my side of the family to Cameron Highlands in Malaysia, our first ever family trip with my mum, my brother, sister in law, Emril my husband and my niece, Noel; another with Emril (my husband) and his parents to NZ in December (obviously this isn’t a honeymoon).
Both trips were intense reality checks. One was 4 days and the other 16 but I was exhausted after both trips. Exhausting but satisfying, great trips that nurtured the soul, even if the body and mind were tested and stretched.
I got present to my parents’ mortality, vulnerability, sense of responsibility, unconditional love. No matter how old the children are, parents will always be parents. I got present to the relationship dynamics of the people in my life: between my parents-in-law, between them and me and them individually and me, between my brother and me, my mum and me, my husband and me, my brother and my mum, Emril and his parents, Emril and my brother, my brother and Christine my sister-in-law and Noel their firstborn, and all the possible combinations you can think of.
When I am stuck in the doing of life, I am enslaved to the self-created pressures of keeping a relationship smooth and conflict-free. I am inward looking and self-centred, focused on what I am doing and not the impact on the people around me. I am a ball of tension, like a ticking bomb, waiting for things to collapse inwards and implode. I lose perspective.
When I take a step back and get present to the source of life, the fabric of the relationships, the hopes and fears in the space we share in the moments we are together, I come alive in the relationships. I am no longer a spectator. I am able to deal with any breakdown, be with any circumstances and with anyone. I am able to smile. And when I do, the world smiles with me.
We all know that life is a bitch. We all deal with life as best as we can, every single moment. But sometimes we allow ourselves to be dictated by circumstances and we rescind our power to live our life. We become a small, insignificant, powerless being in the universe waiting for some form of salvation in so-called vacations. We cheat ourselves by telling our brains that we can run away from reality.
What you resist persists, someone once told me. How wise. What you don’t like in your life, you have the power to change it, not run from it. You can never out-run life.
Life is life. It doesn’t care what names we give it. It happens regardless of what goes on. So in pretending we can take a time-out in life, we are short-changing ourselves; this is our time we are talking about. The clock is ticking.
Instead of pretending that I can comparmentalise life into segments of reality and make-believe, I choose to make every minute count. Every reality – whether I like it or not – is reality. Every reality is an opportunity to make a difference to someone, including but not limited to self.
It’s all a matter of interpretation of course 🙂 At this moment, I am in tuned with everything in my life, all the good and not-so-good and the downright awful. This is my life and the only one I have. Live it.