You know how you go on holidays and as soon as you open the front door, the feelings of relaxation and languid days and nights drop off you faster than a Labrador can catch a flying crumb? For the first time in my life, it didn’t happen to me when we came back from our latest adventure.
Last school holidays, we went on possibly one of our best family holidays yet. It was a brainwave of Steve’s to hire a campervan. So as well as our campsite, set up with tent, table and chairs and a bit of space for storing clothes and food, we had a ready-made living room on wheels. With the days still long but nights too cool for us wannabe hard-core campers to sleep inside canvas walls, we were set. It was brilliant. We toured half the Great Ocean Road in the week we were down that way, took in the Otway Fly, ate fresh fish and chips for tea and pulled off to the side of the road wherever the view took our breath away (we were spoiled for choice, let’s face it) to have lunch or play board games with an ever-changing panorama for a backdrop.
So what was different this time? Simple.
I’ve decided not to enter back into it since coming home. “It” being, of course, the drudgery of life. By keeping out of various things that eventually weigh me down, I’ve noticed I can avoid getting caught – slurped up – back in the circumstances that typically become boggy after a short while; those things I do where I interact with others, with places, with perceived duties and ideals. Of course it can’t all be avoided (well… it can, but I’m not ready just yet to go contemplate my navel on a mountain, never to return). But it’s amazing just how much of the unnecessary we allow ourselves to get immersed in. I know that I need to keep giving myself space, to allow space of time around me, in order to function in a healthy way within my family and those things that are important. It takes time. I blame technology for the associated feelings of guilt that typically creep back in, disallowing me to stay in my backyard long enough to let the heaviness of being “public” wash off.
I’m not talking of the heaviness of grief or depression. This is more a spiritual presence feeling, a density; gravity, put simply!
This feeling, of simply being human with my feet firmly planted on the ground, is something I first noticed when I was stepping through the days and months after losing Ellanor. I felt it again when I experienced a profound journey through near death with a friend some years after that. My sensation of jolting back into my own body after visiting with her was undeniable. The most recent experience I had with this feeling was watching my stepmother drift further from her own physicality – she was so good at explaining and sharing the exhilaration as her journey towards death drew to a close – and I could feel again the immense amounts of unnecessary we are all weighed down with.
We really are heavy (no matter what the scales say!)…. if we weren’t, I guess we wouldn’t be physical matter. There are ways of remaining buoyant, of course, and this will be unique to everyone. For me, it involves providing my soul experiences to feed from. It sounds so trite – I know – but they are simple things, so simple that I often overlook or avoid doing them, believing (wrongly) that they won’t make any difference to me. Walks in nature (with no other sound but footsteps and birdsong and wind through leaves), rolling hills or stretches of sand – vistas that allow my creativity to expand, getting my hands busy in the dirt in my garden, planting new things.
When I lose this balance, I go grey. I go back to stepping day to day. Then I say, “We need a holiday!” and the family agrees. So we go, we holiday, we enjoy it and then we return. Step and repeat.
Something happened this time while we were away, though. We have made a promise as a family, a plan, a way to box and shelve (but keep) this feeling. We decided that a permanent place to take time out as a family with no distractions was a perfect way to truly unwind. I find now, after several weeks at home, that I am still expanding my thoughts into this space (wherever it is) and it is allowing me to look ahead to a new life. A creative fulfilling life, living off the land (if we plan properly) and living more simply.
The vision of the home away from home I have in my mind is one that is beckoning and getting stronger, so much so that I am almost yearning for it now.
Do you have a permanent place to holiday every year or do you go somewhere new every time you get a chance to go away? Which do you prefer?