Vacations seem to be a lot like Christmas for me. So much preparation goes into them and they are anticipated with excitement bordering on giddiness. They are surrounded with high expectations. Then, when they finally arrive, I am so exhausted from getting ready for them that I want to sleep and sleep and sleep. And then there’s the melancholy that accompanies both Christmases and vacations. What’s that about?
When I vacation it feels like my life comes to a grinding halt and I’m suddenly uprooted and plopped down into a strange place doing things that I don’t normally do with people I don’t normally do them with. It’s more than just a change of scenery. In some ways I feel stripped of my day-to-day identity. No one calls me “pastor.” I’m away from my own bed and my pets and the people I usually share my days with. And I start asking myself questions like, “Who the heck am I?” “What am I doing with my life?” “Am I really happy with my life?” “Where am I going to live when I retire?”-- the really big questions that I’m too preoccupied to ponder for long when I’m busy mowing the lawn and walking the dog and writing sermons. It seems that when I’ve divested myself of the outside distractions of my life, I’ve no place left to go but inside. My frantic doing is replaced with a time of introspective being. Scary!
Even when I'm still quite busy on my vacation, I’m busy with different stuff and that takes my spirit to a different place. I always find myself in some way transformed by a vacation, and transformation is hard work. I wonder if that’s one of the reasons why I’ve spent the better part of a year avoiding my vacation time.
And then there’s something unsettling about returning to my old life once again after my vacation is over. How can I feel renewed and transformed and then slip back into my old life? The transition is always difficult for me. It’s like realizing that the shoes I’ve been wearing no longer fit me and I have to break them in all over again.
Am I the only one who feels this way about vacations?