I am very, very fortunate. I’m not materially rich, at least by American or Western European standards. Not by a long shot. But I am ok. I have shelter, food, a job, good medical insurance, and, most importantly, my job offers me a lot of time off. I get around 13 or 14 weeks a year of vacation. Maybe only a week of it is paid, but I would not want to trade the other weeks for a higher paycheck. Time off is invaluable! By the way, in case you’re wondering, I get that time off because I work for a school district that does not go year round. In the U.S. that may be the only way an hourly worker can have that much time off and still keep a job.
It hasn’t always been that way in my life though. I can remember the years when a week or maybe even two, of paid vacation was the norm. But I can’t remember how I made do with that. Probably I didn’t. Most likely, like a lot of other people, I was being slowly, or not so slowly, overtaken by the ambient stress load in my life. Too much stress sucks. It debilitates us leaving us crippled in our ability to conduct a healthy relationship with ourselves or anyone else. A 40 hour week, as luxurious as that may sound to many, is still too many hours for a human being to devote to work, year round, and still maintain being fully human.
So, some may ask, what does one do with a couple months off a year? For many that is not a silly question at all! We can get so hooked into, so identified with our jobs, that we forget how to exercise being human outside that context. For me, and I highly recommend it, I travel and visit loved ones. My family is flung to the far corners of the Earth. And they move a lot. That means that at any given time there are several potential destinations I can access and usually not have to worry about accommodations. In that way I am also very fortunate, although, sometimes it would be nice to have them closer together also.
And, as I have learned, one can travel quite economically if one takes the time to learn how. The internet is a great tool with which to find accommodations and inexpensive tickets!
When I travel and visit loved ones, I usually end up meeting new people also. People I enjoy getting to know and hearing what they have to say. As a result, I find myself developing as a human being. Becoming more knowledgable about life on Earth and what it is all about. A key, I have found, is to look at the behavior of others always asking the question: “In what way does that behavior serve the goal of being a vital, health human being?” In what way(s) does that behavior serve one’s physical, mental and/or spiritual health? Hopefully not serving one at the expense of another.
There is so much for us to learn about ourselves. We all have truths, real enduring truths, we carry that we have learned while living our lives. The times when we can share them with one another are so precious. All such times require are the ability to listen well and the ability to speak authentically, from one’s own center. The connections that can occur during such times are absolutely magical.