The game of life places many responsibilities on everyone’s shoulders; how well you bear this weight can largely determine to what degree you’re able to follow Plato’s dictum: “The purpose of life isn’t to survive, it’s to thrive.”
Like many of you, I’ve made the huge mistake of not fully taking advantage of vacation time due me throughout my working years. I can list various reasons—fear of falling behind in my work, saving money for “more important” necessities–but the truth can simply be summed-up as “sheer stupidity.” The world outside our normal daily boundaries is so vast, yet we are given so precious little time to experience it’s riches.
My wife’s recent good fortune finally provided the good swift kick-in-the-pants I needed to snap out of my woeful lack-of-travel mindset and finally “stop and smell the roses.” Nita participated in a year-long webinar training program sponsored by one of her firm’s largest vendors. This included passing an exam on each training module, thereby winning points awarded to participants for successfully completing each stage of the program. Last July, Nita received an email from the vendor announcing she won that year’s grand prize, a $5000.00 vacation voucher, to be entirely spent on one trip. As we had not truly vacationed in a number of years, we quickly agreed the ideal trip would be to “chill” on a beach, drink the local libations, and watch the palm trees sway in the breeze—in other words, time to visit my inner Jimmy Buffet while my wife could escape her winter weather doldrums.
Flash to January 26th of this year; we’ve just landed in Punta Cana (in the Dominican Republic) with two couples who are our best friends—they had asked if they could join us on our vacation, and we were thrilled they came—I’ve lost count of how many times in the past they travelled as a foursome, because Nita and I always had some excuse (though some were legitimate) as to why we could not accompany them. Stepping off the plane, I’m baked in sunshine and those swaying palm trees—I’m already a happy camper and we haven’t even gotten to the resort!
We had a magical week—wonderful weather, a vast clean white strip of beach, and water as turquoise as a shimmering jewel. The resort’s staff was incredibly accommodating, and we met people from around the world, including an ex-pat Norwegian who was now the proprietor of a beach-front cigar establishment a mere ten minute walk from our strip of beach. I’m not a cigar smoker, but his friendliness and knowledge were the perfect accompaniment to enjoying the Dominican’s #1 export. We also left the resort’s confines one day and travelled to Cap Cana for a day-long catamaran/snorkeling excursion, led by a female German captain and her local Dominican sailing and entertainment staff—our jaws hurt from laughing so long and hard the entire day—what a wonderful group of people. Yeah, you guessed it folks, I remained a happy camper for the duration of the trip.
Here’s the overriding point: I was being the me I always want to be, if only for the week. I had long ago let that “me” become dormant—sheer stupidity resulting from my daily responsibilities unduly constraining the real me.
It’s now March 27th and I’m composing this piece at half-speed; my typing skills diminished as a result of a recent accident at work that literally crushed my left-index finger. Sudden, serious jolts to our health wake us up to how much we take for granted on a daily basis—full mobility, functioning at work, etc. In short, no restrictions, no pain, and the ability to fend for oneself in matters as rudimentary as eating and personal hygiene. It may be a different color rose I’m smelling now, but you get the point. Cherishing (and maintaining) good health is, and should be, the #1 goal of boomers and seniors—do not take it for granted.
I am currently on Workmen’s Comp (a first in my life), with a good deal of therapy ahead of me. No need for your empathy, however; I’m now able to reflect that “Punta Cana” state-of-mind whenever needed…it’s a signal to my system that hey, I woke-up this morning, so it’s already a good day!
Your happy camper,