The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

What Jason taught me on my Summer Vacation #2

#2: Some days you just won't get
 anything done. Relax and enjoy it.

We inhale, we exhale. We wake, we
 sleep. Life is cycles, an inescapable
 truth we struggle mightily to escape.

 Recreation means "re-creation," and
 yet vacations, down-time and so on
are often labeled "mere fun" rather
than "essential time for laying fallow."
  Early in human agricultural history,
farmers learned to rotate crops--and
leave a patch of field unplowed,
unseeded. Let the soil "rest."

On my recent trip to Cali, I had
intentions of writing every day,
researching, conducting interviews,
and more. Everyone has a battle-plan
 until the first punch hits 'em. Then
 it's just a matter of who you are, in
the crunch.

In the crunch, I'm a dad. My concern
morning to night was Jason's well
being, his happiness. I knew that
 would be true when we drove
back to Glendora to have dinner
with our former neighbors, the
wonderful Nambu family. As
he began to recognize landmarks,
it was as if his face and mood and
 body language shifted. "I'm home!"
he said, happy in a way I hadn't
 seen from him in months.

He was home. He had such a
 great evening, so alive and...well,
it was as if some pale, heavy syrup
 had been poured out of his body.
And right then, all my plans
disappeared. My only function
would be to make sure he had
 that experience every day, as
often as possible. So every day
became a process of asking what
 the healthiest, happiest, most
nourishing experiences for my
boy. Knowing that I was actually
 serving myself by serving him.

So we stayed up late, and got up
late. Sampled local roadside
cookies in Grant's Pass, and shot
zombies out of the window in
some nameless stretch of land
near Ojai. Lunched in Santa
Barbara and ran on the beach
 in Playa Del Ray. Work was
a distant memory.

 I watched my heart at play.

Sometimes, all we can do is
relax and enjoy it. And do
you know what?

At times, that is the most
precious thing in the world.


1) For writers: If you've established a writing schedule, deliberately take a week off from it. Journal your thoughts, emotional reactions and observations...about your enforced "vacation" from writing.

2) Diamond Hour followers. Turbo-charging a single hour every day can be head-bending work. Take a few days off from that discipline, and just watch the world around you. Again, journal ideas for increasing efficiency by gaining clarity as to your true values and priorities.

3) Think And Grow Rich. Take a few days off and observe the way you move through the world. When you are aligned properly, life "glides" around you, like water parting for the powerful, coordinated motions of a shark. There is effort, yes, but there is also a sense of support for your efforts, if you are engaged in work and play that is consistent with your values. Seek this sense of "effortless effort."

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