What I Did On My Winter Vacation
Before I took this trip to Spain, I kept telling myself how much I needed a vacation. I was dying to visit this country in particular, but above all I just needed to get away. Everything was going fine, great, wonderfully even for me, but even so, there was just the thinnest film over everything, like a sheet of wax paper. I was just a shade more irritable than what I consider my “normal.” I couldn’t find the fullest sense of peace I felt capable of.
But what I think I noticed the most was this vague, gnawing, insistent tugging feeling. And that feeling, as best I can describe it, was like being in the middle of a spider web of my own creation. All the links I had created with the people in my life, all my relationships, were starting to wear on me. I had too many threads attached in too many directions. Now mind you, these threads were all to wonderful people who I chose of my own volition to be in my life, and all of whom I love dearly.
And I was feeling restless. I think at heart, I have a much more adventurous spirit than I give myself credit for. I was ready to do something big and scary and exciting and new.
Now, I full well realize that a great many people work very hard every day of their lives, and they don’t ever have the luxury of rewarding themselves with a two-week playdate in a foreign country. Their lives never let up, and their spider webs may be much larger than mine, and they do not have the same opportunities I have had. I am a lucky girl.
So ALLL that said, my preparation for Spain consisted largely of looking up yoga studios in Madrid and Barcelona and making sure I had packed both a journal and over 2,000 pages of reading material. Not including my guidebook- which I didn’t even study until I was on the plane over.
I thought I knew what I needed. A glorious retreat in Spain, where I read a lot and thought a lot and did a lot of yoga. Where I gave myself permission to sleep in and have lazy days. I was Stressed Out. I was Overwhelmed. I needed to Find Myself.
Some stats from the trip:
Yoga Classes: 1 (Bikram Yoga Madrid. In Spanish. It was awesome.)
Journal Entries: 1 (Long story, but this lone journal entry was the reason I ended up meeting amazing folks.)
Pages read out of 2,000+: 0 (Didn’t even crack a cover apart from my guidebook.)
Late mornings: 1 (The first night in Madrid. I hadn’t actually been to bed in about 40 hours.)
Late nights out past 3am: 4
Naps on the train to make up for lost sleep: 3
New friends made: 3, plus many other friends of said new friends.
Languages spoken: 2 (Mostly Spanish, rusty and labored though it was.)
Chocolate Croissants: 1 (And I loved every last flaky pastry bite.)
Glasses of wine, cafes con leche, and patatas bravas consumed: Far too many to count.
There are a lot of ways to be in the moment. Some of those ways involve reflection and contemplation. And that’s how I had planned to hit the reset button during those 13 days I was away.
But I had forgotten something very important. I believe I am someone who is meant to return to the world. All of that reflection and contemplation is an important part of my lifestyle, but it’s not my whole life. And at least right now, I don’t want it to be. When I arrived in Madrid, there was too much to see. There were people to meet, and cities to discover, and a rich culture that this country had to offer me. And in soaking all of that newness up, in keeping my eyes open and in being exposed to things that were truly foreign to me- walking roads I had quite literally never walked before- I was ever-present and light-hearted. I didn’t have to think about how calm and happy I was- I was far too occupied with actually being calm and happy to give it a second thought.
What the vacation really did for me was take my focus off observing and assessing (and maybe obsessing over) my every thought and feeling. Instead, I gave my full attention to La Sagrada Familia cathedral, or the Nasrid Palaces, or to the glories of Flamenco. I finally got completely outside myself, and my self was able to relax and rejuvenate.
I’d always thought you recharged your batteries by pulling away from the world. What I learned on my winter vacation is that sometimes you recharge your batteries by plunging headfirst into it.