Just got back from three days of bass fishing with two great friends. One day’s travel on each end made it a five-day, mini-vacation. Sounds harmless, right? Wrong! Nothing wrong with the activity—we fished mornings and evenings, with a midday nap to recharge our batteries—and surely no fault with the friends (one came in from Denver for the festivities). We even managed to corral a few fish. So what’s the problem? you ask. Permit me to explain.
We all need vacations, whether they be just to rest our bodies and souls, to pursue a hobby, or to visit places we’ve never been to before. We get that. But there’s a hidden cost: time. The time we spend on a vacation can never be regained. We speak of “saving up time” for a vacation, but that’s a fallacy; it’s more like “stealing” time. In my case, since I am self-employed, every sojourn amounts to grand larceny. Just three days before I was to leave on this most recent trip, I contracted to publish a novel by a former New York City narcotics detective. But, I couldn’t not go. The vacation had been planned many months ago. And that’s typical of most vacations. Try as we might, they always come at the most inopportune time. I assured the author I would read his manuscript while I was away—it would be a kind of working vacation. (Well, you can imagine just how far I got with that one.) So now, I find myself facing a self-imposed deadline—with five less days to accomplish the task. I don’t have a “time bank” from which to make a withdrawal. If I did, it would have a negative balance.
When I worked in retail as the manager of the fishing department in a large outdoor store, I dreaded taking vacations. The work load upon returning was so overwhelming that I needed a second vacation just to recover from all the extra work brought about by the first. As a writer and publisher, the unseen burden can be just as imposing. So how do we solve such a dilemma? Answer: We don’t—at least not completely. It’s one of life’s conundrums that has no easy solution. Oh sure, we can work longer days in preparation for the hiatus, and we can be better organized; doing those things can help ease the discomfort upon our return. But time is finite (especially when you’re on the wrong end of it), and we’re imperfect beings at our best.
So, we’ll continue to make grandiose plans for our annual getaways. We’ll put in the extra couple of hours each day for a month leading up our vacation, deluding ourselves into thinking that “this time, things’ll be different.” But they won’t. We’ll still have to pay that hidden tariff, the unseen cost that accompanies every vacation: loss of time.
Hey, I know! How about a time share? (Did I really say that? Oh, my, I’m shameless!) I need another vacation. Where did I put my fly rod?
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