Tuesday, June 1, 2010

A Time For Everything

There's a pretty good chance you're reading this after enjoying a bit of rest from your daily labors over the Memorial Day weekend that just ended. This past weekend is considered by many the start of the summer vacation season. School children are on vacation; workers plan for vacations; regions depending on tourist income are opening doors long closed for winter, and bank accounts are being emptied -- rapidly. I personally believe in the regenerative power of a retreat, vacation, or some other designated time to break away from the daily routine. I have already booked my summer plans for a weeklong visit to Alaska -- taking my wife and father-in-law to celebrate his birthday.

But as a man, I have a hard time living with the guilt of not being at work. As a man I often define my place on this earth first in terms of how I make a living. If someone asks me, "Who are you?" my initial impulse may not be to give my name but rather describe my job title and what I do. How common is that?

So I have to listen to the writer of Ecclesiastes when he writes, "There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven" (Ecclesiastes 3:1). Yes, there is a time for vacations. I consider a vacation absolutely necessary for me to be my most productive. The experiences I encounter, the memories I accumulate, the time I spend with family and friends, and the opportunities I have to experience new cultures, customs, and cuisine -- all help me mature and keep my mind active and sharp.

But not all my brothers are taking time away from the job. One in four Americans receive no paid vacation time, one in three employees doesn't take all the vacation time he is due, and one in five Americans cancels a vacation because of work. Men, you need to take care of your family and yourselves. You need to take a break and renew. You need to kick back and take your wife on a picnic, take the kids to a park, or visit a zoo with your grandchildren. You need to drive a back road without a map and without a destination for a whole day, eat ice cream cones at the beach, or park at the "cell phone lot" and watch the jets land. You need to lay on your back and show your kids the stars, walk hand in hand with your beloved through a wooded path, or find a waterfall and listen to its roar. You need to write a letter to your mom, visit Alaska and - maybe -- even take time off from work to go to Cleveland, New Orleans, or any other work/service project you've got a hankering to tackle. Not surprisingly, time spent helping others is often the best way to help oneself.

What are you doing for your summer vacation?

1 comment :

Anonymous said...

My idea of vacation is “not going to work”. I travel a lot on my job. And the last thing I want to do on vacation is travel. However, that doesn’t exactly make my wife jump with joy. I dream of not going to work. That is, not getting out of bed right away when I wake up. I’d like to get up when I feel like it, eat breakfast when I’m hungry, and play golf when I’m in the mood. There are only two problems with that. First, that’s not my wife’s idea of a vacation. And second, it all costs money. So, I guess I’ll keep working a while longer. And now and then, take a day off to play golf. I’ll admit it. I like my job. Don’t get me wrong. I’d rather not have to do it. But I don’t dread going to work. I’m just blessed. I have a good wife and family, a good job, I work with good people, and, as long as my health holds out, I’ll just thank God for all of it. And of course for that occasional decent round of golf.