Despite the fact it snowed last weekend, I’m still told spring is on the way. There is enough evidence of that to give me hope. The robins have returned, for one. Baseball season is officially underway. And I am getting ready for a vacation.
Looks like the family will be heading to Emerald Isle, North Carolina sometime this summer. Never been, and I’m looking forward to it. It’s a ways, of course—seven hours or so on the road. Which means there’s a lot to plan.
Temporarily moving both myself and my family seven hours to the south and east is quite the undertaking. There are reservations to make and deposits to send. Routes to map out. Prescriptions to have in hand. Lists to make. Eventualities for which to prepare. The logistics can be overwhelming. It’s almost as if the Coffeys are preparing to land at Normandy. I’ve even resorted to buying a notebook so I can keep track of things.
I’m sure your household isn’t much different. There’s a lot involved in planning for a vacation. And though all that planning isn’t what I’d call fun, it isn’t work, either. Sorting out where we’ll go and what we’ll do makes me think of hot sand and warm water, and that’s a comfort in the midst of this cold Virginia March.
Lately I’ve been wondering about all this planning, though. Not the necessity of it, but why I don’t do more of it elsewhere. I can tell you with exact precision where I’ll be on a North Carolina beach in a few months, but not where I’ll be tomorrow. I can tell you what I’ll do then, but not what I’m going to do now. And I can describe my vacation goals (they’re on page 3 of my notebook), but I’d be hard pressed to tell you what my goals are for this afternoon.
See what I mean? I have discovered the great shame of my life, and it is this—I plan my vacations better than I plan my life.
The opposite should be true, right? But it isn’t. I justify everything I’m doing now by telling myself that vacation comes only once a year for me, and for only a week. Better make it count, then. Better make it as wonderful as I can, because for the next 358 days after, the memory of it is going to have to hold me over.
And while that makes a certain degree of sense, it’s the sort of reasoning that falls apart when you look at it hard enough. Isn’t it kind of ridiculous to spend so much of my time planning on one week out of the year when there are fifty-one other weeks that should demand just as much attention? How much better would my life be if I thought of every week as a vacation week, here once and then never here again?
It’s a question I’m sure to ponder for a long while, and one I think we all should. We let too many of our days pass us by with the false promise that tomorrow is sure to come. As much as I’m all for slowing down, I do think a healthy sense of urgency is required for any good life. It passes so fast. We assume time is on our side. It isn’t. Every tick of the clock, every beat of the heart, is one less moment we have.
I’ll have to keep that in mind, that and the knowing that it is much easier to plan an escape from reality than to plan for reality itself.