Those of you who followed along on my Instagram adventure over the past few days may have been under the impression that this trip to Maine was a long-awaited and joyfully anticipated family vacation. And while it ended up being one of the best weekends I’ve had in a very long time, it didn’t quite start out that way. Allow me to shed some light on the facts of the matter.
This vacation was borne into existence approximately 2 weeks ago, when, after talking about going away on a short family vacation for months, my dad decided we were actually going to go away on a short family vacation, under the threat of death. Literally. He played the, “Who knows how much longer I’ll be alive!” card, which is always a great comfort.
Morbid persuasions notwithstanding, I was not in favor of this decision.
In part, it was because I’m usually the voice of reason within our family dynamic. I thought of the practical reasons why money and driving distance would be better spent elsewhere. But mostly, I just didn’t want to take the time to go away. August has been a doozy of a month for me. I don’t know that I’ve ever had so many different plates spinning in the air before. I’ve spent the whole month working as fast as I can while taking as little time “off” as possible. The prospect of taking 3 days off right before the sprint to the finish was tough to swallow.
But it was clear, as evidenced by the recruitment tactics, that my parents both really, really wanted to take this vacation. And as I had no desire to be either a dream-crusher or a party-pooper, I jumped on board with the 3-day vacation plan.
But really, I was still thinking about work.
When I envisioned our vacation to Maine, I only had one thought: I had 8 hours on the drive up to get work done, and 8 hours on the drive home. I would write blogs and answer emails and catch up on what had been left uncaught for weeks. Not once did I think about the actual vacation part.
And then, at dinner the night before we left, my mom announced that she wasn’t consuming any liquids for the next 12 hours.
(If you are confused, see this Instagram post.)
That sparked an idea. I thought that along with work, I’d also document a few classic Watts family moments. Because nothing says Ideal Sample Size like spending 72 hours together, 16 of which would be spent in the car driving there and back. True to form, the hits just kept on coming, early and often, so I knew the #3DaysInMaine series would be a worthwhile investment.
But I didn’t know how worthwhile of an investment the vacation would be until we got to the summit of Cadillac Mountain.
Cadillac Mountain is part of Acadia National Park. My parents had gone last year during another brief New England vacation and had raved about seeing the sunrise there (it’s the spot where the sun rises first on the east coast). When we arrived late on Thursday afternoon, Cadillac was our first stop. They couldn’t wait until sunrise the next morning to show me around.
I could not believe how beautiful it was.
I could not believe I almost missed it in favor of working.
Standing on top of that mountain, gasping in awe not only of the beauty everywhere, but in gratitude for getting to have this experience with my parents, it was like truth serum being poured over everything that I’m working towards. The truth that was clearly revealed?
“Busy” is stealing my life.
Busy makes me selfish and shortsighted and sad. It leaves no room for joy in every moment because it rushes me through every moment and onto the next. It sucks the life out of my sense of humor, zest for life, and willingness to serve. Busy is a codeword I use for overcommitted and unrealistic. It sees time in terms of what can be accomplished, not what can be experienced. Busy takes my normal priorities and puts them in a blender on liquefy.
Busy is stealing my life, and I’m letting it. No need for a burglar attempt at gunpoint, Busy. I’m leaving the door wide open with no intention of calling the cops. Come on in and wreak havoc!
Most of what I’ve been busy with lately has to do with the season of life I’m in. I am in the beginning stages of forging a career that I hope to continue for a lifetime. I want to write and create for a living. But I also want to have a life, not only a career. The way that I’m currently living is not a reflection of that sentiment.
Because I’m just getting started, it feels like this is the time to establish a precedent, to create clear boundaries for how I handle work/life balance. I’m certainly not going to be any less busy when my career starts to grow. And if I let busy steal my life now, what makes me think it will be any different in the future?
Coming home from vacation sometimes feels like the equivalent of setting New Years Resolutions. You can clearly see what needs to change and you are all fired up and ready to change it. Everything is going to be different! But I think that the only way that lasts, the only time that things really change, is when our lifestyles change. When it’s not just a one day, one month, one year commitment; it’s an irreversible shift in a new direction.
I know that I need an irreversible shift away from busy. Should I find myself needing bulletin board material for this new lifestyle, all I’ll need to pin onto it is the quote from my dad when we pulled back into our driveway on Saturday night, “Well, that was fun. You have to be willing to go on an adventure!”
I agree, Dad. And there are only adventures to be had when I don’t let busy steal my life.