A memory of two years ago came to mind today. I was having my monthly “How-do-you-do?” session with a friend. It was the month of June; the last week of my summer vacation and the first week of his. He had been quite fed-up with the tiring routine of assignments, submissions, tests and exams, and was feeling like a helium balloon that’s been released into the air – carefree and happy! The picture of an overworked student of Engineering at the end of a semester! I, pursuing the more humble B.Sc. (Computer Science) course, was looking forward eagerly to college re-opening. I’d had a long two-month vacation, towards the end of which I’d got bored. The heart yearned for the good old routine!

“You’ve got to be kidding me, Aarti,” was my friend’s astonished reaction when I aired these views of mine.

“No, I’m not! I’ve exhausted my usual holiday pastimes and now I’ve nothing left to do!” I told him.

“You don’t value this free time you’re getting because you have it in plenty! When you’ll get only three weeks of end-of-semester break, you’ll understand just how much of a heavenly experience a vacation can be!” he said, sighing philosophically.

“Oh really?! We’ll see!” I said, laughing.

Little did I know then that I’d just made a self-fulfilling prophecy! After completing one year of M.Sc. I’ve really learned to appreciate a holiday alright, there being scarcely any! Every second counts, every moment of a vacation should be put to good use, and ought not to be allowed to slip out of our hands, I’ve learned! But here’s the funny part: rather than wanting to put my feet up and, in general, being extremely lazy all the time, I still find myself feeling restless when I’m not doing anything at all for too long!

There’s just something about having a routine and being at work constantly; you just cannot deal with inertia for too long! At some point, prolonged inactivity begins to wear you down. You feel imbalanced, like the ground is slipping away from under your feet. You seek something new to pursue, to explore, and to lose yourself into. You begin to look for new things to learn. You remember old hobbies, something you’d left off due to some reason, something you decide to take up again now. The old sports-shoes are cleaned, new equipment and gear bought; ready to go cycling or to play cricket or tennis or football or basketball. The dust is cleared off the guitar you haven’t played in many months; the notes filling you with serenity and joy! Old music tracks are gathered, the ones you used to dance to, the way you’d almost forgotten you could! New routes are hunted for, to go on treks; entirely different routes are found in the process! The old camera is repaired and many happy moments and beautiful works of nature captured, to be treasured lifelong, if not forever! The canvas and the box of paints and brushes are taken out of the cupboard, the colours describing that which mere words cannot! The clay, the coloured papers, waste articles are crafted into delightful objet d’art; the magic in your fingers still intact! Sheets of paper are filled with blue or black ink, words painting pictures; pertaining to reality as well as figments of your imagination! Books are searched for, to lose yourself into!

You begin to telephone and text and email and Skype your friends a whole lot more, friends from years ago as well as ones you’re always in touch with! You feel like meeting them more often, you feel like spending more time with them! The treasure box of anecdotes is opened, the peals of laughter never failing to follow! You begin to spend more time with your family too, especially if you’re away for work or educational purposes. Every small part of your life begins to feel precious. You begin to see just how many people really care about you, how much your smile makes them smile! And you realize that your life would be nothing, if not for them!

I was under the false impression for many years that relaxation is synonymous with lying in bed doing nothing. To a small extent it does comprise of doing that. However, I’ve realized that it’s in doing the things we truly enjoy, the things that truly raise our spirits and transport us to Cloud 9 that true relaxation is found! I think my friend was trying to convey this very sentiment when we’d had that conversation. I didn’t get it then, but boy don’t I agree with you now! 😀

Cheers to happy times and precious vacations!