I just got back from a vacation. Like, an actual one. Where you take time off and don’t work and whatnot. One of those.
I’m clarifying because I can have a strong tendency to be a bit of a workaholic, so the idea of a vacation- wherein no work was involved or expected- is still shocking to me.
Now that I’m back and have had some time to reflect, I realized that I now feel more inspired and creative than ever. And I believe it’s a direct response to having taken some time off. So I’ve come up with three reasons I believe this break was good for me and any real break is valuable and necessary for all creative minds.
Go Off The Grid
We are so connected in our world today, it’s really hard to power down. But both computers and brains benefit for being shut off once in a while. Before leaving for this trip, I told everyone and anyone who might be interested that I would not only be gone, but that I’d be hard to get in touch with. While inevitably there were a few instances where I sent a work-related email or responded to a work-related text, they were few and far between and probably totaled a cumulative 15 minutes of time. Mostly, I just ignored my phone.
It wasn’t easy. The temptation to just spend a little time giving one person a call back or just answering this one issue for a project was definitely strong. But I knew I didn’t want to spend my vacation sitting at a computer or staring at my phone. I do enough of that on a day to day basis. Sure, there might be more work waiting for me when I got back, but that I could just figure it all out then. Nothing needed to be done now.
Sometimes we like to think we’re really important. I know I do. And it’s not that you’re not an important and special snowflake. Of course you are (just like the rest of us). But traveling, more than anything, I think gives you the opportunity to see that your world can continue on without you just fine. People will figure things out. And if they can’t, you’ll feel more valued when you return. So really, it’s a win/win.
Just like learning that your business and work will be able to function without you, I found it invaluable to remind myself that the world I live in is only one way to experience life. I went on a road trip and got to see all sorts of different towns all along the northeast. One morning, I was lucky enough to be a fly on the wall in a tiny diner in New Hampshire and eavesdropped on the locals who almost completely ignored me. And, much to the shock of people who may be obsessed with it out here, at no point were they discussing any element of the TV or movie industry. Can you even believe it!?
They were talking about the weather and the local high school football game. One old man was quietly enjoying his lunch and reading a local paper while another unabashedly hit on the waitress, who just rolled her eyes, clearly accustomed to his flirtation.
Why does any of that matter?
Because I think when we get too stuck in our own worlds, we lose our perspective on our place in this big world. We all get to be parts of little patches on the quilt of our own culture, with the threads of commonality like language, etiquette and our shared history making us one large unit. But for the most part, we’re completely different looking patches on the quilt. And to assume that one patch is inherently more important or more interesting than the other patch is just plain ol’ narcissistic delusion.
If you live in LA and get to create and you love it, you’re lucky. No matter what may come your way, you get the opportunity to know and live your dream. But don’t forget that there are plenty of people who have no interest in this world. And that’s ok. So next time you think some element of your world is going to have major implications and it feels like it could be the end of the world, there’s some old man in New Hampshire who’s asking a waitress to sit on his lap who won’t be at all affected by the outcome of your personal disaster.
Actually Relax and be Present
Of course I took pictures. Of course I checked some social media. Of course I looked at and took some videos. It’s 2015. And despite that I saw a ton of Amish while on vacation, I did not become one of them. I like technology and I like being connected.
But there’s an anxiety that comes with feeling the need to create content all the time. You put something up on the web in some capacity then you, inevitably, want the responses. The “likes” or “notifications” that tell you people are validating your happiness. Which is just silly, you sillypants.
I was at Niagara Falls on a boat looking at this incredible natural wonder. And most people on the boat were more concerned with getting the perfect picture than they were feeling the refreshing mist on their face or basking in the glory of the falls. One girl legitimately had her back to the waterfall most of the time in attempting to pose for the perfect selfie. I got a picture or two and they’re good enough. But mostly I took deep breaths of the cold water, people-watched and laughed at how drenched we were getting and felt how cool and refreshing it was. And I laughed at the power of nature and how small we really are and I genuinely relaxed. No validation needed.