It’s been just over a year since we went into our first COVID-19 lockdown here in Montreal. Among the many other understandable complaints that I’ve heard over quarantine is the pining away for travel. I want to state for the record that I too miss travelling, and felt a little put-out that the plan to spend my 50th birthday in Italy was being completely derailed.
Don’t get me wrong! I appreciated all the effort put into my physically distant socially awkward 6 person backyard birthday party and an even more socially awkward family birthday zoom experience.
For those of you who don’t know what a family zoom is… it’s where you SURPRISE sit in front of your laptop and stare at a Brady Bunch-esque checkerboard display of your children, your sister, your 2 brothers, your 2 mothers, your 3 fathers, 4 of your closest friends… and a cat, as they all stare back at you, waiting for you to say something profound.
And when they can’t take the silence anymore, somebody finally breaks the silence and asks you if you feel any older.
I mean… Italy. Come on.
The more I heard people mourning the loss of their annual all-inclusive and tropical winter vacations, and the more
desperation I heard expressed, (“If I can’t go on vacation I have nothing to look forward to” and “If I have nothing to look forward to, how am I supposed to cope with real life?”)
the more I felt sorry for all those people who were having “real lives” that they feel they need so badly to escape from.
Of course, we all need a break from time to time, and we all can benefit from taking time off from the daily grind, stress, and responsibilities that come with day-to-day life, but to have a life that seems unbearable without that escape seems really, really heavy.
After judging these people rather harshly and rolling my eyes, I stopped and asked myself.
Wait… Do I look forward to my life? Or am I also just coping with it?
I’m living it. I’m definitely living it. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t room for more joy, more mindfulness, more gratitude. And it doesn’t mean I don’t have my moments. Ok yes, there I admit it, even I have moments. I went through a phase (we’ll call it) where I kept catching myself saying things like “I just have to get through this day/week/month, and then I can relax/be present/enjoy myself”. Yuck.
So moving from judgement to humility, I began to get curious about whether or not there might be some changes that these people could make to their lives, to feel more inclined to embrace or even enjoy their lives instead of feeling like it was a trap that they had to claw their way out of. This led me to start exploring ideas of how one might actually do that, without quitting their jobs and taking up full-time poolside crochet, unless they can afford to of course, in which case, “HEY! What are you waiting for?!?!”
Because a life that needs escaping from, is not a life.
I started by writing a list of things I love about going on vacation. And then I wrote a list of which of those things I could do right here where I live, within the limitations of local protocols; from trying new foods and wines to sightseeing, (home) spa days, and even just days off work, to simply wander aimlessly and explore new neighbourhoods. Needless to say, I have made and enjoyed A LOT of Italian
wine food this year.
Again, I’m 100% on board (see what I did there?) with vacations and travelling, but I also know that I’m not the only one who has slipped into the habit of saying “just trying to get through this day/week/month”, and if there is one thing we’ve learned over the global plague that has descended upon us, it’s that none of us actually know how many days/weeks/months any of us have left.
I’m absolutely not going to “just try and get through” any of them anymore. I’ve promised myself that I was going to be present for each and every day I do have, that I am going to savour and move through them mindfully and with intention, even if some of them are a little harder than others. These are my days and I’m not rushing through them ever again.
My wish for you all is, no matter how challenging it might seem or how daunting it might feel, that you find a way to create a real-life that you find joy in living and that your vacations are just some of the many things about it that you have to look forward to.
And also that if you are finding ways to do that, that you share. I will. I will start sharing with you, all the vacation inspired things that I’m up to if you do.
What things do you love to do on vacation, that you can incorporate into this lockdown life?