Benefits of a Classical Vacation

“And when Alexander saw the breadth of his domain, he wept…for there were no more worlds to conquer,” Hans Gruber quoted, looking at Mr. Takagi. “Benefits of a classical education.”

In my previous post I quoted Young Frankenstein. This one’s from Die Hard, of course, said by Alan Rickman in one of my favorite roles of his. I haven’t conquered the world like Alexander or liberated millions from some corporate vault like Hans Gruber, but I did just take a two week vacation from work. And yeah, I did weep a little my first day back because there were no more vacation days to enjoy.

I’ve mentioned before that stress is a contributing factor to the frequency and severity of the tics associated with Tourette’s Syndrome. Some people refer to stress as a trigger. I like to think of it more like an accelerant, just like caffeine is for me. Throw some gas on a fire, it burns. Throw some caffeine down me, I tic more. Load me up with stress, I tic more, too.

When I talk to people about this they tend to take it as an immediate effect: I’m stressing so I tic more, but if I breathe deep and relax I’ll stress less. All better! But that’s not really how it works. Yeah, stepping back from a situation, breathing exercises, and mediation can help diffuse a situation and reduce its immediate effects, but stress accumulates over time and needs to clear the system over time, too. There’s no dump valve for stress.

Back in December when I started my vacation I was a jangled mess. I hadn’t had a real vacation in years. Stress from work and from events going on in the community had built up to the point that I was ticcing non-stop. Even my non-TS co-workers were looking jangled. I’d lost interest in most of my hobbies, and projects at work appeared burdensome rather than interesting. Something was bound to give. It was just a question of when.

I actually had plans for this vacation. I was going to clean out my garage. I was going to force myself to get out with camera and sound gear. I had hikes planned. Drives I wanted to do. It was going to be a reset for my creative juices! Action packed and chock full of opportunities to explore!

I did absolutely none of it. No massive garage clean, no photo shoots or field sessions. No hiking. I didn’t even go to the beach. Not once. I wound up relaxing at home instead. That sounds awful, but it was exactly what I needed. I didn’t check email once. I got off all forms of social media. (I’m still off most forms of social media!) I read, I slept, I played video games with my family, cooked, watched movies… played.

I can’t say I was tic-free by the time I came back, but I was nowhere near the joint-grinding frenzy I was “enjoying” before vacation started. Projects at work look interesting now. I can even jump into simple stuff like quoting and purchasing spare parts with enthusiasm. I still haven’t been drawn back into my hobbies, but that’ll happen when it happens. When I do get back into them, it’ll be with a clearer head and a calm I haven’t experienced in a long time.

There’s a lot to be said for a good, classical vacation. No action, no adventure, nothing even remotely like Die Hard (though maybe that’s a good movie to watch on vacation!)  The benefits of a classical vacation speak for themselves. I’ve been back for a week now, and my tics are still better than before. I just hope it lasts.