To Do Or Not To Do. Now That Is A Question!

va·ca·tion

pronunciation   vey-key-shuhn

–noun. A period of suspension of work, study, or other activity, usually used for rest, recreation, or travel; recess or holiday

The above taken from dictionary.com

I do not take enough vacation time — at least not enough for me. I work many hours and when not working there are many things to do for family, home, etc.

So when I do take vacation  I am conflicted. At the same time I want to do lots of fun things and do nothing in order to rest and unwind. (I also want to exercise, eat great meals and sleep a lot but lets stick to the two primary categories.)

To do or not to do.

In the workplace, the emphasis is on activity, on doing. The more that gets done (well) the better. There are limited workplace exceptions when contemplation leading to enhanced creativity can be both respected and viewed as necessary. The vast majority of the time we focus on doing.

Since work provides the money that sustains our lifestyle, though not our life, and we spend so much of our time working we tend to carry this propensity for doing into non-work time. Like vacation.

I just came back from eight days in Costa Rica. We knew that it was rainy season but given the complicated calendars of my wife, my son and myself, we had one window to go somewhere and Costa Rica has been on our list for quite a while.

We did do. We hiked in a cloud forest, white water rafted, rappelled down waterfalls, went zip lining above the treetops, kayaked on a river through mangroves, went on a guided tour of a national park and took two other hikes in the forests/jungles of Costa Rica.

And yet…

Only one of our activities was an all day event. Most days we left early in the morning and were done by noon or 1 pm. That potentially left a whole day to do more. And why not? Who knows when we will be back in this beautiful country.

There is an answer to why not. The answer is that both body and mind need some time of not doing to prepare it to do more later and more importantly to be able to fully appreciate the acts of doing.

Being in Costa Rica during rainy season can be a pain. One never knows when it will rain (though generally the mornings were sunny and the afternoons and evenings rainy)  But when in the afternoon? Some days as early as 1 pm and other days not until 4 or 5 pm. Sometimes it would rain intensely for an hour and stop and other times it would rain continuously.There are few indoor activities available since the outdoor ones are so plentiful and spectacular.

Being in Costa Rica during the rainy season can be sweet. Though you can try to fight it the rain provides a convenient excuse just to not do. It relieves some of the guilt of not chasing more activities. One day we hung out at the pool and the hot tub during the rain storm — made even easier by the presence of a pool bar. One can swim or sit in a hot tub during a tropical rain. You can’t get more or less wet.

One of my favorite evenings consisted of the three of us hanging out in the room from mid afternoon on. We alternated reading, napping and eating snacks. Rarely were all three of us doing the same thing at the same time. The room was quiet. We enjoyed just being together. We did not even go to dinner that night. No one was hungry enough and we were sooo comfortable that leaving the room was no option. I loved the rhythm of that night and the do nothingness of it all.

Yes there were a couple of days we searched out extra activities.  Sometimes it was worth it and other times maybe not. These were balanced by the quiet times. That to me is a vacation.

I find that more often in the hectic and sometimes stressful life I lead that not doing has become essential. Yet with an inexhaustible list of things to do, the question “To Do or Not To Do?” is always being asked.

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