Isn’t it curious how there are certain times of year that are designated as periods of enjoyment? We pile all our expectations into the basket of “summer,” “Easter,” and “Christmas” holiday seasons and declare that these are the times when we will enjoy ourselves, have fun and slow down. The children will be angels, the extended family will be adorable, and thank goodness there is no school. We hold these “truths” of the future in our heads and cling to them for dear life as we try to shepherd everyone out of the front door to make it “on-time” to wherever our stressed-out bodies are supposed to be.
The future is set, and it is called “holidays.” This is where the good stuff happens. The life raft on the sea of crazy.
Hum. No pressure then, huh?
But the problem is simple: the future doesn’t exist. We only ever experience this moment. Piling our happiness into some bizarre creation called “summer holidays” can give us a momentary vacation in our minds, but soon enough we return to this moment, which is the school run, not a beach in Thailand (ummmmmmmm, Thailand!!!!!). If I sound depressing, I apologise (I am always apologising: I’m British) because it is intended to be the opposite! Why should you place your happiness, fulfilment and general well-being into a few weeks arbitrarily dotted around the calendar? How about, well, er…now? Rain or shine, and no matter if we are running between school/kindergarten/childcare and work?
As expats we are prone to an “escape mentality” where we endure the present moment in lieu of some later “real” experience of travel or homeland/homecoming.
I invite you to settle down here, in this land, in this moment. Yes, amongst the chaos, the school bags and homework, runs to Migros/Coop, clubs and sports. Get comfortable and happy in the place where you live in time and in space.
Notice the little things that are around you – those things that light up your day. Those beautiful things, those funny things, those surprising things. Let life live you.
Big things like “holidays” are strange thought concepts. A shorthand for a story of sun and family. That is why it can seem confusing, when you’re sitting in the middle of it all. Where is the FUN? Where is the non-stop enjoyment? Where are the happy children and smiling adults? Where is the wonderland that I constructed in my head? Darn it! Is it still just the present moment? But simply a different present than when I was caught up in normal life back in, say, April. Again, amongst the story of “summer holidays,” those things that bring you pleasure and delight will be the small things: the sun rippling on the water, the sound of the birds, the smell of sunscreen, the taste of ice cream, and just the warm feeling of the sun (hopefully!).
You can find delight in the small and glorious, right here, right now. It will change – as it always does – but it is always available: holiday or not. In fact, it is a way to enjoy MORE summer fun and to feel more fulfilled after a time away. Why? Because you are actually experiencing reality, rather than experiencing your thinking about how it should be. Disappointment and judgment are left behind (like a towel abandoned on a beach lounger), and true experiential memories are created and treasured, by and for you and your family.
By Tammy Furey
(click on the image to print it as a coloring page)
Tammy is a coach, educator, writer and blogger who lives in St. Gallen, Switzerland with her husband and daughter whilst attempting (badly) to speak German, fold her paper recycling in the correct manner and finish writing her book (www.thegratitudepapers.com). Visit her at www.fureycoaching.com
Illustration by Laura Munteanu
Laura has studied Journalism and Advertising, and has been working as a journalist and an illustrator. She has been illustrating for magazines, websites, charity and diverse campaigns. She lives in Zurich with her husband and eight-year-old daughter.