On keeping vacation time

Olive's Hippo ToyWhile Olive (Jenny’s dog/the house dog/the It Takes A Village community dog) may lack the ability to have anything resembling an “indoor voice,” she does not lack for personality. Currently, her most endearing quirk is her relationship with Hippo, the toy she stole from the neighbor’s dogs. (She is a verified clepto.) Every night after dinner, Olive stuffs Hippo into her mouth and carries her around like a fresh kill for 10-15 minutes. Once she’s satisfied with her post-meal-hunting, she “hides” Hippo in one of three Could Not Be More Obvious locations: on the rug at the front door, on the staircase, or anywhere out in the open in the guest room. Except for last night, when Hippo was inexplicably left outside. Maybe they’re in a fight. Related: Hippo probably needs a bath.

On the flip side, Olive’s most mind-boggling quirk is her reaction to any gift or special treat. This includes bones, new toys, and, primarily, rawhides. Regular dogs see these items as treasures to be devoured as quickly as possible. Olive sees these items as opportunities to panic. Instead of enjoying the hide of some poor animal, she will carry it around, crying and nearly hyperventilating, in a crisis over whether to hide it (which, as Hippo knows, is squarely in line with her skill set) or slowly savor it in a secret location. Instead of doing either, she usually continues to run circles around the house in hysterics.

This is how I feel about time.

Instead of enjoying it, I run around in a panic trying to make the most of it and end up missing the point entirely.

The one place where this is not true is Green Bay, Wisconsin.

Green Bay Me

I don’t know what happens to me in Green Bay, but it is magical. I’m fully aware of how questionable it is to have such a visceral reaction to a place where football happens, but as soon as we cross over city lines, a weight is lifted. It feels like the unmatchable freedom of being on vacation plus all the warm comfort of nostalgia and home.

Green Bay Me is, by far, my best version. She’s relaxed and joyful. Up for anything. A wearer of plastic football necklaces, holder of Randall Cobb’s face on a stick, consumer of fried cheese curds and brats. She’s carefree in all the best ways and, in the most stark contrast, completely unconcerned about the passage of time.

It’s the weekend right now and I’m writing this post in advance to publish on Wednesday. And from my pre-vacation vantage point, I want to figure out how to bring that girl—and her view of time—into the rest of my life. Because I’m so over the rush and the hustle and the overcommitment that is both culturally encouraged and self-inflicted.

I think a good place to start is this podcast from Kate Bowler, author of Everything Happens. Her actual conversation with Dr. John Swinton was lovely, but her opening and closing statements felt particularly spot-on:

I have always been obsessed with time, but I think I’m getting worse. Whenever I think about cancer, all I picture is a clock. Tick, tick. Then, I start to feel a little frantic. How can I get everything done? When is my next scan? Then I look at my son, my beautiful snake-obsessed sidekick, and I worry, “Am I doing enough? Shouldn’t he have already started learning piano? Why is this going by so quickly?” Tick, tick. Then, sorry mom and dad if you’re listening to this, but the fragility of my own health makes me completely obsessed with my parents now that they’re getting older. Have we taken all the trips we need to take? Have we said what we needed to say?

We keep time differently, depending on our season of life, or our personalities, or experiences. But, also depending on our abilities and disabilities, our possibilities and our limitations.

Carpe diem. Seize the day. I think I always thought that was an imperative about time. Go get ’em, tiger. Get at it. Speed up already! Choose the passing lane. When I listen to John, I’m reminded to slow down. I need to stop flying by at the speed of anxiety and deadlines and exhaustion. As John writes, God’s time is gentle, generous. It moves at the speed of love. In God’s time there is enough, enough to sit down and draw a breath, to look more deeply into the eyes of people who we are lucky enough to love, and feel the secondhand of the clock stop ticking. I don’t know, that kind of time suddenly makes me feel a little more human.

Maybe that’s the best way to describe the feeling I get in Green Bay, and the feeling lots of us probably get when we’re on vacation: a time when the secondhand stops ticking. When there is finally “enough” time.

But there is “enough” time all the time, isn’t there? Because we get to decide what that means. We get to decide how to use the time we have. I mean that in the practical minute-by-minute way, not in the What Will Your Gravestone Say? legacy way, though I suppose both could apply. And if we need a vacation to slow down for long enough that we actually enjoy time instead of frantically trying to make the most of it, maybe we need a new way to spend time during the 48-50 weeks a year when we’re not on vacation.

Let’s pause here for now. There’s more to say and also more to pack, because I feel every second of the secondhand ticking right now in the full sprint of the pre-vacation to-do list. See you all post-vacation, at which time I may or may not still be wearing a plastic football necklace with pride 🙂

Good Things

Kate Bowler’s podcast came from her book, Everything Happens. Both are incredible.

James Clear, again. I really enjoyed his article on quality comparison.

I made energy bites for the road trip to Green Bay and while I rarely follow a recipe for anything, I did at least follow this base recipe before adding in almonds, cashew, cranberries, apricots, pepitas, sesame seeds, and cinnamon. So good.

This was likely featured on a previous edition of Good Things, but if you haven’t seen the workshop edition of “This Is Me” it’s so worth watching.

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