Every summer throughout my childhood, my family would travel north for our annual holiday. It was blissful and exciting; easily the most fun time of the year.
We would spend the year anticipating its end- Christmas, New Year’s Eve, and then our holiday. Then, when the holiday was over, we would all reluctantly go back to school and work, hoping that the year would fly by so that we could all feel the same amount of joy, freedom and bliss that we had felt throughout the holidays.
It was much the same during the week- we would all get excited about the weekend so we could ‘do whatever we wanted.’ Then Sunday afternoon would roll in, and everyone would unwillingly return to ‘normal life’ on Monday morning. I’m sure this up-and-down routine was followed by a majority of families around the world who participated in the typical social routines. But this social structure reminds me of the quote,
“People wait all week for Friday, all year for summer and all life for happiness.”
I made a decision several years ago to ‘drop out’ of the social routine when I decided to start my Masters and then my PhD. Prior to that, I had a full-time job as a criminal prosecutor and I found it traumatic and emotionally draining. I decided then and there that I didn’t want to live like that, and I decided to return to learning. Learning turned into university teaching, which turned into a PhD, which turned into consulting, motherhood, writing books and speaking.
For a long time, I felt lazy because I didn’t participate in the typical social routines followed by most people. But after awhile, I realised I wasn’t lazy (in fact, I worked more hours than most). I was just making a conscious decision to live according to a different structure. I worked on weekends and did my shopping on Monday mornings. My husband (as a chef) and I went on dates on Tuesday afternoons. We saw movies during the day, and worked at night. We went travelling in February or August, when everyone was back at work and school.
The technology that we can now access gives us the ability to live and work like this, but so many people and companies are still stuck in the rigid consciousness and structures of the 1950s. People are forced to take annual leave in December-January and pay double or triple the normal amount for flights and accommodation. Parents are forced to choose between caring for their children and having a career because of the rigid routines and expectations of face-time in the office. People with passions are forced to ‘indulge’ these in their spare time, which is dictated by the company.
This is why I don’t believe in holidays. The concept of holidays sends the message that normal life is otherwise boring, draining and stressful. Normal life is not fun or free. Normal life is responsible, duty-bound and lacks spontaneity. Here’s what I do believe in.
I believe in loving your life so much that you don’t want or need to escape from it.
I believe in loving your work so much that you are always (sort of) working. But what you do never feels like “work”; it just feels like an extension of you.
I believe in rituals that are built into our lives. Yes, our bodies need to rest and rejuvenate. Each day, sacred time for movement and meditation. Each week, sacred time for family and friends. Each month, time for therapeutic touch and exploring nature away from your daily life.
I believe in travel and new frontiers. Of course we are enriched by exposing our minds to new cultures, environments and places. I call this mind expansion. I call this an investment in inspiration. I call this communion with self and others. This is more than a holiday; this is a voyage into the self.
I believe that we all crave freedom, and that we need to strike a relationship with our work that honours our unique meaning of freedom. Your desire for freedom might mean that you need to work outside instead of at a desk. Your desire for freedom might mean that you need to move away from the city and turn down the noise.
Holidays, work days, weekends… We are not defined by the external structures of our lives. We are defined by our moment-to-moment awareness and attention. If this awareness is mindful, grateful and light, then we will be happy. If we expect the outside structures of our life to make us happy, then we will be waiting the rest of our lives.
Rise above it all…