For an editor, taking a true vacation is about as rare as seeing a unicorn trotting down the street, wearing a vest made of four-leaf clovers and dropping Susan B. Anthony dollars along the path.
That does not mean I don’t try. I get to a hotel or a friend’s house, determined I am NOT going to check our newspaper’s website…or Facebook page…or email. That often lasts all of 15 minutes and then I am there, scrolling and texting on my phone, checking out leads or returning inquiries about upcoming events. I have become the very person I used to roll my eyes at…you know the ones, who check their phones incessantly during meals and conversations, not able to turn off “work mode” long enough to visit the restroom or eat a hamburger in peace.
I spent this weekend visiting friends in Kansas City. Once again, I was determined to leave work behind as much as possible (It is naïve for an editor to say he will turn off his phone completely and leave it off. That’s just crazypants.).
To my surprise, I actually WAS able to focus on something other than the business and entertainment pages and other projects we are working on for more than 30 seconds. In fact, when I got home, I realized I had not checked any online media sites at all for two days. TWO DAYS. And do you know what? It felt GREAT.
Now that I am back, it took a full morning in my office to lose a distinct feeling of disconnect, as I went through emails, edited waiting articles and caught up on the weekend’s news. What that “disconnected” feeling told me was that I had done my vacation RIGHT. For a change, I did not just do my job in a different locale; I actually turned it off for a while. Even just two days made a big difference in my ability to recharge.
When I got back, a friend had submitted a letter for print…he sums up something on which I think I am finally starting to get a handle:
What is vacation?
According for Forrest Gump’s mom, “it’s when you go somewhere and you don’t ever come back.”
When I’m on vacation, I don’t want to go back. What I experience on vacation is what I want for my normal, everyday life. “How can I make this happen?” is what I ask myself every time.
I have no schedule when I’m on vacation. I live in the moment. I live in the present. I don’t know what I’m doing next until I do it. A full day on vacation is a full day of doing exactly what I want to do as opposed to doing what I need to do or should be doing. Every day is like this. “This is unbelievable,” I tell myself. “I can live like this every day.”
The only time I reflect on the days past is to count the days I have been on vacation. The only time I look into the days ahead is to figure out how many days I have left on vacation. It’s an amazing feeling to wake up on vacation and realize I have more days of this to come.
I never get tired of the view. I have a view all around me. I go from one view to the next, trying to spend as much time as possible at each one. The view never changes.
When I’m on vacation, I know I’m not needed, wanted, or looked for…therefore there is no need to have my phone on me. I don’t feel I need to check it every five minutes. What a wonderful feeling.
It’s a blessed thing to take vacation; don’t let one pass you up.
Derrick D. Richardson
So how did you do with your vacation time this summer? Did you “disconnect?” Did you even take vacation time at all? Tell us what you think. Send your comments and opinions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
As always, thank you for allowing us to be your community newspaper; we are happy to be here!