My Vacation Book Report . . . What I've Learned

Vacation is always about relaxing and getting away.  Right????  Finding the time to renew your soul and making yourself ready to get back in the trenches and fight anew.  The trick, of course, is holding on to some of that sense of self . . . your relaxed self . . . so that the vacation is not a temporally separate part of yourself, but part that you bring with you as you approach the tasks of each new day.  My reading material tends toward the philosophical, whether I am on vacation or not.  This vacation was no different.  But with the blog as part of the fabric of my life these days, I thought I would share some of my insights based on the two books I read over this last vacation.  I guess context might be important here, too.  My vacations are camping vacations.  While Disney World is a favorite destination for the family, my favorite is to take the road less traveled . . . this time to New Hampshire and Maine.  But please, don’t envision tent camping . . . I don’t feel like being that hardy!  I have a nice but not too big motor home that provides for a hot shower and a soft bed at the end of each day.  We did pick some out of the way places to visit this time, so we were in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, the far east corner of Maine (the BIG town had a population of 1500) and, lastly, an overly commercialized section of Acadia National Park.  I like to think that all the cold and rain we experienced on this vacation just added to the “get away” feel of it . . . I think my wife and daughter might have a different opinion.  But, anyway, my reading was done in quiet, get away locations.  Being an early riser, even on vacation, my reading was typically done with my first cup of coffee at the dinette table in the RV listening to the rain pelt the roof and watching the fog roll through the trees or over the shores of the bay.  A nice place to be.  A nice place to think and to be quiet.  Here are the books I read and some thoughts about them.  I would urge you to read both and take from them what you might . . . 

The Darma Bums by Jack Kerouac.  Remember hearing about him?  One of the 1950’s and 60’s beat poets who pre-dated the hippies of the late 60’s.  My son lent me a copy of this book that was lent to him by a college friend.  I do believe it is a perfect book for both college student and aging dad alike. Reading it awakened in me feelings that I have not felt for a long while.  It reminded me of a time when I was younger and more free of the burdens of responsibility, expectation and debt.  No . . . I am not running away and joining a commune . . . But within each day . . . each moment . . . lies the opportunity to take what is for what is . . . and to be there . . . and accept it for what it is.  It is not the burden and responsibility of family and career that makes the day difficult . . . it is the worry and the fear of what is to come . . . and over-evaluation of what has transpired . . . that makes one lose sight of what is going on at this moment.  Now, of course, it is easier to be “free” and “unburdened” when one is twenty two and responsible only for yourself.  As we get older, it appears to be more difficult.  What we do and say has repercussions for those to whom we are connected. But is it really more difficult?  Being in touch with our core-self does not require grand gestures or huge life change.  It is as available in this moment as it would be if we sold all our belongings and hitchhiked across the country.  We did an odd thing this year.  It wasn’t planned . . . we just kind of did it.  We started taking pictures of small things in the woods . . . mushrooms and stuff like that.  While all of our fellow vacationers were ambling (or rushing) past looking at big trees and sweeping vistas, we would have our noses and our cameras pointing at a toadstool.  I’m sure people wondered what we were doing . . . but what it afforded us was a very different perspective.  At the foot of the rock or the very tall tree was a microcosm of life that we would have missed if we didn’t slow down and look.  We had the time to appreciate the big vistas . . . but also saw the big vistas within the context of what was at the root of the tree.  For me, that is what this book was about.  Slowing down and looking at what is at the root.  Making sure that I don’t go through life so fast that I miss what is occurring at other levels.  And I also got some cool pictures of mushrooms!  If you are ever in the office, ask me . . . I’ll show you!

The other book I read was The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch.  I’m sure that most of you have heard about him if not read the book already.  Although he recently died from his cancer, his approach to living his life has inspired millions . . . and now one more.  But the book itself was not about how he needed to change his life because he got cancer, it was more a tribute to how he lived his life from day one.  And we could all learn a thing or two from how he lived his life.  He viewed his life as an adventure.  Filled with opportunities for the experiencing.  Some resulted in successes, some in learning experiences, but none in failure.  The book is filled with tid-bits and aphorisms about how to live life.  We are all on short time here.  Some get advanced knowledge about the end . . . some do not.  The trick is to live like you will live till you are 90 while living like you might die next month.  Make sure you enjoy each day while simultaneously nurturing those aspects of career and relationships you need to sustain you for the next decades. Live life.   Be honest, straight forward, and kind to those around you. Take the time to take care of yourself.  Take time to care for others.  

Simple stuff . . .

. . .so easily lost in the rush to live life.

Comments are closed.