Vacation or Vocation

We’ve been out West for a long time now, and it has been great to see family, enjoy long nights by the fire, and explore the area by kayak, horse, and foot.

So why do I want to go home?

I’m not the best vacationer anyway. I always pull my family behind me, moving without a break to the next fun thing to do, and never really stopping to enjoy the easy relaxation of my muscles that, apparently, can occur on holiday. In fact, on this trip I’m actually still working, so it’s not even technically a vacation.

But what has me a little down is a very good thing. The longer we’re here, the more I miss our lives back home. I’m realizing that these trips to see family and to get some time together before law school are great and certainly necessary. But there’s also something great and necessary about having work we love and doing it well.

When we first moved to DC we wondered if finding such work would happen. But it did, and for now it makes vacations feel kind of weird. Most weeks we take advantage of our days off. We go to museums and explore new neighborhoods and relax together. Rarely do we need extended time after that.

So yesterday, when Michael ran out of things he felt like doing to relax, he became a bit panicky. And when I got too busy kayaking or thrift store shopping to write, it felt like a part of me was missing. It turns out, we’re not alone. Studies have shown that vacations, well, don’t really work.

If back in DC, I would be more active in raising awareness for Somalia, which is suffering under a famine so catastrophic that it has quickly become the worst crisis on earth. Refugees are fleeing in droves along “roads of death” from towns like the one used in my header image. International response has been slow at best, and we continue to kill our own land with dangerous farming practices and waste – practically ensuring that food crises will be with us for many years to come (I’ve been reading National Geographic and Wendell Berry out here – can you tell?).

I want to cry out for these mothers and children, stuck wandering because their oppressive government won’t allow in any help. I want to see my husband enthusiastically rocking law school. And I want to finish the writing that fills up my imagination and waits like a neglected child while I ignore it and go horseback riding.

These are the things I think about on vacation. It’s one thing to creep close to burnout, but in my case it’s more like missing the things that start my fires.

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