No Longer Keeping Up

Vacation season in Qatar has begun – and most of the rest of the world as well – the planes, trains, and automobiles around the world are full of expectant, antsy, and jet lagged travelers, our family being no exception as we’ve used all three of these conveyances in the last month. Vacations are important because they let you step away the track or wheel (whatever animal analogy suits you) and recharge. Often you’ll plan a vacation so full of excursions that once back in the office you’ll find yourself saying “I need a vacation to recover from my vacation” or “where did that time go?”

Sunset at New York City boat basin, by Ellie Delancey

Maybe we love being away so much because there is more than often something about here that we are avoiding. For many people it’s the 9-5 daily grind of the job that they’d rather get away from. Mostly because it only does one thing: keep the lights on or pay for the next holiday. The recent financial near collapse of the global markets were apparently triggered in part by this penchant to be tied to having more than we can afford. And the cycle seems unbreakable: you buy, so you work, you work so you can buy. Yet no matter how much we buy, we don’t seem any happier. One year I gave up buying new clothes in a effort to see if I could break the addict like hold commercialism had on me.

More recently during the Arab spring, I contemplated the state of my own life and decided to stage a mini-revolt of my own against the buy happiness model philosophy.

A few months into life as a freelance writer, it does feel scary now that I’m into my first month fully off the track. What if I’m wrong and actually I do want more things that I suddenly have to pick and choose from instead of willy nilly filling shopping bags to cart home?

Every time one of these questions plagues me, something happens. Like last night instead of paying hundreds of dollars to get into a restaurant to watch the New York City fireworks for the 4th of July, we got towels from the pharmacy, sandwiches from the deli, twenty friends, and sat alongside several hundred other people in the grass at boat basin, waiting for the magic to begin. There aren’t the bragging rights of being close to the barge that had Beyonce performing, or partying on one of the boats in the river. But there was the joy of being with family, checking in with an old friend after five years, young lovers discretely exchanging caresses in the midst of the mayhem.

In short, something akin to happiness.

Is there something you have been contemplating? A risk you’d like to take? Let’s share not only our trite “miseries” about modern life but the hope of adventure as well.

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