You’ve bathed in the sun, frolicked on beaches, gone snorkelling and spent all your time without a to-do list or the urgency of a deadline. Blue skies, rainbows and butterflies. Waking up without the shrill sound of an alarm, rolling in your warm sheets as your eyes open in the morning, your feet refusing to touch the cold floor. And most of all? Knowing they don’t have to.
No one dictates how you spend your time. You can stay in bed re-watching episodes of FRIENDS or take a long bubble bath in the middle of the day. You can spend hours watching a movie or reading books that haven’t been assigned. That laid-back feeling on hazy evenings, when a glass of wine or a pint of beer [or Coca Cola.. uhm] with a bowl of noodles or a box of pizza serves as the ideal cap to a lazy day.
The excitement [or utter confusion] of packing to travel to a foreign/home land. Do I need to carry socks? I’d rather carry 3 shorts – what if I don’t feel like wearing blue? Dressed in breezy linen shorts and flip flops. A funky hat that declares to the world “I’m free! I’m not at work and I’m free!” Gazing lustfully at pictures of your holiday destination online, googling where to go in Bali and the ecstasy of booking your flight at the work desk. Discussing water sport alternatives with colleagues and drinking spot alternatives with friends.
The lull is in the air, anyway. The roads to work are emptier and there’s parking available! Work is scarce at the office as people take leaves one after another. So, it’s goodbye guilt! Football enthusiasts discussing transfers in huddles and your neighbour watching pointless YouTube videos really takes the pressure off. Oh, what a wonderful time of the year!
.. And before you know it, it’s over. Playtime’s over, the bell has rung and oh.. It’s shrill alarm clocks, assignments, bumper-to-bumper traffic and deadlines all over again. The dread of going back to work or school the next day fills you up and you chant “It’s not fair. I want to go back! That break was far too short!” It’s back-to-work time.
But, here’s a warm and comforting truth for all of you: If we had the year off, half of us would be panicking, running from place to place trying to fill our time with something to do and the other half? They would be idly sitting on their couches, feeling depressed and useless. “Idleness, like kisses, to be sweet, must be stolen” – This is a quote by one of my favourite authors, Jerome K. Jerome [in the book “The Idle Thoughts of an Idle Man” give it a read – it is truly magnificent].
A stolen moment of adrenaline at a waterpark or an ecstatic instant at a concert in Ibiza, no matter how lovely, cannot fill our basic need – the need to be productive. We work tirelessly, sometimes earning to shop, other times studying to get a degree, but the end goal is happiness. And, honey, you can buy a house in the Bahamas and laze in it all year, but the sweetness of doing nothing is lost when you do nothing at all.
That being said, why should your everyday life be so dull? If you’re utterly unhappy no matter what you do, you don’t need a change in scenery, you need a change in perspective. Over this summer, my standards for happiness on a daily basis have dropped to the following: A warm quilt on a comfortable couch, hot coffee in the morning, a king-size breakfast and a delicious dinner after a long day of work and workouts. Not annoying work [although, it can be annoying], but fulfilling work. I didn’t flit away to a far-off land for a dream holiday. I stayed home, watched movies with my little brother, cooked every meal as if I was on Masterchef and had long, idle conversations with mum in the morning. It was wonderful.
There is comfort in routine – humans are built that way. There’s joy in meeting familiar faces and catching up, swapping stories and keeping in touch. There’s love in your regular cup of coffee or tea and there’s excitement in downloading the latest episode of your favourite series [Sherlock!]. There’s adrenaline in ambition [and catching your favourite song on the radio, in traffic]. There’s pride in work well-done and your salary at the end of the month. You just have to see it.
When you feel like escaping, it may be counter-intuitive to stay, but give it a shot and add elements of a holiday to your bustling mornings [chamomile tea, a couples’ massage, or a run on the corniche]. Or give yourself an hour every day for a mini-vacation [which means.. do whatever you’re doing like you have all the time in the world, without thinking of your to-do list] and that feeling of dread that makes you want to escape will soon become a soothing reminder that there’s nothing here to run from.