Vacation. Vey-KAY-shun. Am I the only person to whom this word seems like an endangered species? During the months leading up to the end of term or summer “vacations,” I often find myself pondering whether the promise of a vacation anytime after grade school is a rude and crooked sham.
Having spent too many months feeling critically overworked and chronically behind on readings and projects, the idea of vacating my mind for joyful and unintellectual stupidity is as welcome as the rippling image of an oasis would be to a desert traveler. Somehow, though, any time off from an organized commitment becomes an opportunity for (and I loathe this term) Professional Development. And just like that, the oasis that made your mouth water is a mirage that fooled you into believing that it was really okay to finally take a break.
I should say now that I hold myself entirely responsible for repeatedly bypassing the oasis. As the moment the onslaught of work deadlines abets, I begin to think: How can I spend this windfall of free time wisely? What are my weaknesses, how can I improve upon them? How can I turn this summer into a stepping stone to make back-to-work/school easier? This of course, is in addition to the ”just for pleasure” reading list, the academic enrichment reading list, the driving lessons, community service, and the fact that now is probably the perfect time to enroll in intensive Mandarin.
All these good-intentioned, prudent goals conspire to make summer – that mythical time for lying in the grass, playing in the sand and curling up with books – seem a lot like the frenzied juggling of the rest of the year. I have squandered many a summer in this way, running like a headless chicken from one “productive” activity to the next, full of guilt for never doing as much as I had planned.
Summer guilt! The thought is absurd. So I have decided to turn my life around this summer by reclaiming the following (un)productive activities: reading fantasy novels, watching inane comedy shows, baking an elaborate birthday cake at least once, watching all the shows on the Food Network and deciding on my favourites, going ice skating, drawing pictures of seasides, lions and trains, taking leisurely walks in flip flops, stretching and falling asleep on the couch.
I have also decided that the above (not) to-do list is subject to whimsy and that no party is to blame if one or more of the items listed gets left behind or done to glorious excess.
I would dearly love to hear that I am not alone in planning days of summer indulgence. Advice from expert frolickers would be greatly appreciated. Tell me what you imagine for your days ahead, especially if you, like me, have decided to give dogged industriousness a swift kick in the shins. I’d like to think that there are many of us out there, digging our toes into the sand and sprawled uselessly in the sunshine, collectively reclaiming our right to daydream and to lazy summers of yore.