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Entering the fog bank of family vacation

It’s mid-July, season of family vacations (complete with assorted small cousins and siblings).  I am on one in Santa Barbara.  Every morning a blanket of fog rolls in from the Pacific Ocean and cloaks us.  I’ve decided it’s an apt metaphor for what I’m feeling. Part of it is, th…
By Seth Barnes

dinner tableIt’s mid-July, season of family vacations (complete with assorted small cousins and siblings).  I am on one in Santa Barbara.  Every morning a blanket of fog rolls in from the Pacific Ocean and cloaks us.  I’ve decided it’s an apt metaphor for what I’m feeling.

Part of it is, this is my fourth trip in a row (Africa, Mexico, Indiana and now, CA).  And part of it is, I’m only ever as good as the poetry in my life.  It is the side of me that gives and shines.  But out here, I feel like a consumer, taking more than I give, leaving my spirit feeling puffy and bloated.  Whereas usually I’m navigating life with clarity, out here I’m bumping into walls and can’t hear myself think.  It feels like I’m in a Twilight Zone scene.
 
It has nothing to do with my family itself whom I love and am happy to see.  I love my parents, my sisters, my brother, and their families.  It’s great to catch up with them.  They are all wonderful and doing well.  And this is our only chance to be together, so it’s a gift.

But maybe you can relate to the discombobulation of a family vacation.  It happens every time – because we move thru life at a breakneck pace, we actually look forward to them, mistaking them for a therapeutic space in the annual calendar.

What we fail to remember are the aspects of life that are crazy making:

  • Lack of consistent schedule
  • Constant swirl of activity.
  • Occasional barbed comments that only family members get to make.
Lost in this hub-bub is whatever life of the mind one might ordinarily live.  It reminds me of a story I just heard: A group of tourists went on a safari in Africa and hired several native porters to carry their supplies for them. After three days, the porters announced they would have to stop and rest for a day. When the tourists inquired as to why (they did not appear to be tired) the porters confirmed that fatigue was not the reason: “…but we have walked too far too fast and now we must wait for our souls to catch up to us.” 

Maybe you have no idea what I’m talking about.  Maybe most people who go on these mass vacations return home rested and clear-thinking.  But I think there are other people out there like me, lost in the fog bank of a family vacation, trying to navigate thru the noise to hear themselves think again.

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