Wednesday, December 31, 2008

return from vacation

Yesterday morning, I was playing on the sunny beach in Mexico. This morning, I was nearly blown off the road with cold wet wind. I'm not complaining about the weather. If I were, it would be that winter here isn't as harsh as I like. (What Marylanders call "wintry mix" Minnesotans would probably call "rain.")

It's the contrast between vacation and home that gets me. Warm and sunny to cold and dark in half a day. Since I traveled back from England at age 10, I've been awed and a bit disturbed by at how quickly a person can go from one world to another.

I just spent the most relaxing 4 days in memory on vacation with my family (18 of us, ages 66-6 months, in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, gracias a mis padres!) and now I'm back with my heater turned up, sitting in front of a computer. My body takes more time than a 6 hr plane flight to adjust. But I can feel it adjusting and I resist. I don't want the relaxation to go away as fast as the sunshine.

I caught myself saying "back to real life" with a groan this morning. I know my vacation was a bubble kind of world. No worries about money or cooking or climate change or really, anything sober or serious or profound. It's the kind of vacation, an all-inclusive resort, that I know has some ethically questionable aspects. The comparison between the wealth of an entire family lolling on the beach and the vendors desperate to sell a bit of jewelery was hard to ignore. But I managed. I needed a break.

It's taken me a long time to get to the point where I can enjoy myself without feeling guilt that there are people in poverty or war torn areas or an environment suffering. I can be a real downer but I believe the life of faith calls us to those kinds of concerns.

But taking a break, a sabbath, is more than allowed. It is commanded. And for me, a sabbath means resting from any kind of serious thought or deep worry.

I wonder about sabbath and ethics. How do I relax in a world I know full well to be flawed? And how do I even write about it here without feeling the need to grasp some deeper meaning? It has something to do with trusting others and God to be active when I'm resting. But I don't yet have the mental energy to think that hard.

Basically, I just enjoyed myself for four straight days. All these people I love were together. We had family harmony and genuine joy and playfulness and sunshine and total absence of stress. I got a year's worth of laughter and hugs in those 4 days. Sure felt like real life to me. I'm going to stay in that mode as long as I can.


  1. I also had mixed (happy & sad) emotions when I was in PV. Weird. I didn't have those feelings when Zachary and I were in Hawaii. It wasn't so much a feeling of guilt, that is, being able to enjoy a vacation surrounded by people hardly able to make ends meet. But more a feeling of familiarity coming from an impoverished country. But I continue to remind myself that God is fair. A common Filipino trait is not caring much of what lies ahead and just leaving everything in fate. This results to a stress-free life! Almost. :)
    You posed a lot of good questions in your blog. Life is hard to understand... And there are so many, many things I can never comprehend.

  2. Anna - thanks for commenting. For the readers - Anna is my sister-in-law. She was raised in the Philippeans. Your comment "God is Fair" sure made me think. I'm not so sure. I think God loves justice, but there seems to be something so fundamentally unfair about the world.

    I forget sometimes when I'm with you that you have such a history in a different country. Isn't that wild? I would love to go to Cebu with you someday. And your perspectives on poverty are probably so different from mine based on where you're from.

    Stress-free life? Can you help me figure that out?


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