“We’re on vacation!” my father would shout, whenever he made a choice to spend money on a normally extravagant purchase. Whether or not we were actually on vacation, his pronouncement would signify that financial caution was being thrown to the wind in service of whimsy and pure fun. Doors opened wide and anything seemed possible in those moments.
I inherited my father’s sense of vacation-induced freedom. On a recent trip to Portland, I watched myself not only making unusual purchases, but also engaging in activities that I might not otherwise entertain. I got up early my first day to go hiking by myself in the rain. I bought food from food carts. I drove 2 hours to spend one night at Breitenbush Hot Springs. I bought a chocolate blackberry tart at a famous bakery. I chased sunsets. Although I also kept up with my work schedule, my mindset was definitely one of being on vacation.
When I returned home to Madison, I kept my sense of adventure with me. While I certainly won’t do this every day, I bought a treat from a well-known bakery a few blocks from my house that I had never before patronized. I tried out a restaurant I’ve been wanting to go to for many months, and that I have passed by literally hundreds of times in the last 7 years. It’s like I came back home with a “beginner’s mind,” ready to discover the new in the familiar of my life.
One of the items welcoming me home was a children’s book by Pat Zietlow Miller, Wherever You Go. The story, wondrously illustrated by Eliza Wheeler, is replete with metaphor as it examines the comings and goings of roads. Literal roads, like the roads we follow in life, can take us pretty much anywhere, allowing us to explore and connect in adventurous ways. They allow us to take a vacation from the routines we fall into in our daily lives. And then, for those of us lucky to have one, roads take us home.
I find myself wondering: Why should coming back to “where the heart is,” mean we no longer take opportunities to zig and zag? To cross bridges, climb mountains, and chase clouds? Yet this is often how we experience home.
Adventures at Home
As I was showing pictures of my Portland trip to some of my yoga friends, while quietly drinking tea at my favorite studio in Madison, they marveled at the beautiful sunsets I had captured on my smartphone. They were oohing and aahing over the last sunset image when I pointed out the caption: “Sunset over Lake Mendota.”
That picture was from before my trip. Lake Mendota is right here where I started, in Madison, Wisconsin.
To be sure, I don’t have to go far to create life adventures. And the next time I see the colors of the sunset brimming, I will gleefully shout “I’m on vacation!” and go chase after them.