Ah, holidays, they’re so good for the soul aren’t they? Warmth in your bones, cocktails in your belly and pictures of your red toenails against a blue sea on your Facebook account.
Or not – as was the case for our most recent holiday.
Yes, we did have warmth – but only for a few hours in the middle of the days, for a couple of days. We also had rain for much of a day, clouds, and the chill of early morning and evening which comes with mid-autumn. It was invigorating and restful weather.
No cocktails. (There was wine though – let’s not get too hippy here).
But we did have some chairs and a wee porch, which was situated upon – literally – the sand of an almost deserted beach. One day, the kids played on the sand, watched a movie, played a board game, played some more on the sand, walked on the rocks and swam, and for about three hours my husband and I sat. We have many kids, aged 3 to 10 (our fault). Sitting was an activity we had to relearn.
My red toenail picture I took. However, sadly, and gladly, Facebook was nowhere near us. Nor phone contact, nor email, nor ANYTHING! Plenty of chip eating kangaroo’s, pretty finches and fisherman at dawn. But I couldn’t tell anyone about them.
To begin with I found myself looking for things to do, with no quick fixes of social media enjoyment, or snooping into other people’s enjoyment, available. I found that actually, it doesn’t have to be quick fix, because in fact there is nothing quick at all about FaceAche (as my funny friend calls it). Once you’re in there it’s like quicksand – nothing quick about it and you’re not getting out any time soon. I think I grabbed back hours – in fact I know it was at least three hours that one day on the balcony.
I began by filling the time with my book. Which I finished. Then I read another and I was all outta books. Because anyone with a 3 year old knows there’s no such thing as finishing a book within the library’s designated 6 month return policy (what? It’s not 6 months?). The kids didn’t need organised activities – they organised their own. Yes, the 10 year old boy got a bit sick of being the “horsey” on the beach, but hey, that’s your job when you’re number 1. They were safe and free. Doesn’t happen often in the burbs nowadays.
Then I looked. What I saw when my head was up and out into the open was clearest, magic-coloured water… my two big boys just sitting on a rock gazing, in companionable silence… a national park of our quite amazing Australian trees swaying and framing the expanse of sky. I saw dolphins, incredible colours on the rock shelves, and a stingray surfing with my kids (till it ran away from their squeals). I saw fresh air. Can you tell me what fresh air looks like? How it feels coursing through you when you’re still?
I saw my husband again. I saw that we need to switch off phones more often. I saw how I see things when I stop.
Noticing. It’s important.
When we returned I heard of a tragic accident which resulted in the loss of a little boy, just like my own. I cried for them. I wondered if the parent was too busy, too pushed with too many things to do, and in that split second it happened. It could happen to me – I can feel it hovering too close to my heart. I appreciated my opportunity to notice all the more.
Why not switch FaceAche off for a day and count the hours you grab back? Look up. Breathe out. Listen carefully. Touch the hands of the ones you love.
Understand though, I am not suggesting you give up cocktails…