We’ve just returned from a 2-week vacation. It wasn’t to Hawaii or Acapulco or any vacation hot-spot with a beach and balmy breezes. We just went to Ohio to see my family. We also spent time in Windsor, Ontario, visiting old friends (because we lived there for awhile), and in northern Michigan, where my sister & her husband built a luxury chalet overlooking a lake.
It wasn’t the kind of vacation you’d find packaged on Travelocity, that’s for sure.
What did we do?
We drank some of the best margaritas north of the Mexican border at a little place called Oler’s in Findlay, Ohio. (I’ve had margaritas all over the place. The only margaritas I ever had that were as good as the ones at Oler’s were actually IN Mexico.)
We spent hundreds and hundreds of dollars on books in Ann Arbor, Michigan. (The Canadian/US dollar is at par these days, but the Canadian prices haven’t come down to match. So we went on a bit of a spree.)
With my sister, we took our child and three of my sister’s grandchildren to Chuck E. Cheese’s in Toledo, Ohio. Yes, we have a Chuck E. Cheese’s here in Calgary, but we don’t have my sister’s grandchildren.
I drank vodka and played Scrabble.
I hugged aunts and uncles and cousins and a whole bunch of really little kids who hadn’t a clue who I was.
You get the picture.
So what am I blathering about, here? Do I have a point? Well, yes, I do.
A week before I departed for this vacation, I got snarky with a co-worker. I found myself becoming impatient and ultimately stuck on projects I was trying to push forward. I, who generally get along with my colleagues and in fact consider many of them good friends, found myself not wanting anything to do with any of them. Frankly, I was sick of the lot of them.
I even wondered if it was time to look for a new job somewhere else, with new faces and new challenges. But that couldn’t be the solution, because the very thought of new faces was annoying to me.
I really needed this vacation.
Now, here I am, two weeks later, on a Saturday morning, faced with the prospect of going back to work on Monday. And guess what – I’m looking forward to it! I’m on a committee for an upcoming event (and it was very annoying and bothersome to me two weeks ago) and I find myself really curious to know if anything has happened with the committee, or if it went on hiatus for the holidays. There’s a box of papers and files that I spent the entire fall ignoring, and now I want to dig through it and see what’s there. And most importantly, I’m thinking about what I could get my teeth into this year to really make a difference for my organization.
So now I’m starting to get to my point, and if you’ve read this far, thank you very much.
Let’s think about the people who are so enmeshed in their problems that there is no escape (or not any that is apparent to them, anyway). Consider a single mother living below the poverty line, trying to make a day’s food last a week. Consider the difficulties in providing opportunities for her children and the guilt she must feel. Consider how overwhelmingly exhausted she is at the end of each day, while school and society bombard her with the advice of reading to her children every evening. Consider how she not only has to work her butt off at some low-paying job, but she has to haul around during her free time to take advantage of this and that service (often at opposite ends of the city), dragging her children with her, to try to make sure they have shoes for school, coats for winter, medicine for an ear infection, and so on.
There’s no vacation from this.
I flatter myself that I’m a reasonably sharp, logical sort of person with self-discipline and direction. Even I succumbed to some attitude problems and apathy that impeded my efforts just as if the impediments had been external.
With no vacation in sight, I probably would have burned out, failed to execute, and perhaps even lost my job.
So, let’s go to Fantasyland for just a minute.
Suppose we could pluck that overworked and desparate mother and plop her into a safe, relaxing place for just two weeks. She could decompress, and maybe even have a chance to get her head around some things. She would have time to consider her life, make some plans, and allow her creative side to lead her to some solutions.
Imagine we could do this for homeless people, people living in situations of abuse, people with addictions, and so on.
Can you imagine the response to the proposal? What a waste of money, allowing these people to just relax for a couple of weeks with no expectations on them! By God, their problem is that they need to take some responsibility, be accountable, step up to the plate, develop some work ethic.
Wouldn’t it be interesting to challenge that assumption and just see what happens if people struggling in dire situations could be given a vacation?
No one questions that those of us living the good life need vacations.
Maybe those of us struggling on the bottom of the ladder (or those trying to even find the damned ladder) are presumed to already be on vacation. Stupid bums anyway, right? Trying to suck off the system. Trying to get a free ride. Or maybe they’re just too stupid, which is why they’re on drugs or why they had babies without a husband or can’t get anything better than minimum wage. So if they’re stupid, in a sense, they’re already on vacation, right?
It sure would be convenient to believe that.
Unfortunately, I’ve met too many people who are caught in vicious cycles, and all they really need is a break, and someone to believe in them.
And they could also use a vacation.