On Taking time off

This fall, for the first time in what seems like forever, I’ve taking some time off. Not one or two days, but some serious time off. I went on a surf trip for 10 days. Ten days without work-related calls, almost no emails, and mostly, with very little other than surf and rest.

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It was challenging, I must admit. It takes time to adjust to a the rhythm- getting up in the morning, doing some yoga, eating a leisurely breakfast, surfing all day long, doing some yoga again, eating dinner, watching some photos of us surf and hitting bed early to do it all again the next day. The only big changes between days were dictated by the weather gods- some days a certain beach would have good surfing conditions, other days we had to travel to a distant beach to surf, other days had no waves so we relaxed or went to the local market instead.

I was afraid I would become bored (especially if the weather would turn sour and would not allow us to surf- which didn’t happen) and traveling with a group of people I barely know is not my idea of fun (I tend to be shy to a point of being perceived as snobbish). But all my fears were laid bare- I never got bored, I enjoyed the foreign culture and sights, and even had a very good connection with the group, to a point I know consider some of them my friends.

Relaxing

All in all, even though it was not a very relaxing vacation -some days started very early (before dawn), were very demanding (4 hours of surfing plus 3 hours of van rides over rough terrain), it was still fundamentally different than day to day grind. Almost like being on a different planet, it followed other rules. Anxiety over work and family turned into a mellow concern- “would there be good waves today?”, which then turned into a more soothing- “never mind, we’ll enjoy whatever luck throws our way”. I can’t said I’ve transformed into a careless being, but I do I now can let go more easily and reduce some stress and anxiety levels, even in my ordinary rat race of a life. 

Disconnecting

I wasn’t completely able to disconnect- I carried my phone with me, posted pictures, checked emails, talked to my family and friends. But somehow, the urge to constantly reach for my pocket, pull the phone out and check for new messages has subsided. I will try to transform this into an ongoing habit- maybe even erase some time-and-attention consuming apps, such as Facebook and twitter from my device.

Trying new things

From trying new activities, to sampling new dishes and seeing new places- there’s always great fun in trying new things. I used to think that yoga wasn’t for me- I’m as far from limb and flexible as one can imagine. And yet, during this trip, daily yoga session (although they felt really awkward) were good fun and I felt so much better afterwards- that I’m even contemplating trying this on a regular basis.

Distancing yourself

The physical distance, accompanied by time zone difference creates a mental distance that helps you step back and think about the important things in life. Sure, surfing every day is great, but the trip made me realize just how much I value my family and friends. This isn’t something I haven’t known already, but the distance does put this in perspective- and helps you realize what’s important in life.

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I’ve had a great time during the trip. I thank my wife for making this possible and my daughters for patiently awaiting my return for 10 days. I don’t think I’ll venture on such trip anytime again soon, but knowing that it is possible is get away from it all from time to time is a huge comfort. I strongly recommend you try it.

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