By John W. Vander Velden
Those that know my family and its history understand the place I come from, a place that demanded total commitment, long days of unending weeks. My first outing came when I was well into my twenties. My parents couldn’t understand my desire to drive around Lake Michigan the first time. But a dear friend told my parents something I will always remember. “It’s not so important where he goes, what matters is where he is not.”
On that wisdom, I have relied all these years. There will always be the tasks that require our attention, but if we do not take the effort to care for ourselves, then perhaps we will be unable accomplish all that is demanded. Shouldn’t those that work hard, deserve a bit of time away? Few would deny the right. Short breaks from the job reenergize us. But there is the truth many forget. Being away exposes us to different places and different people. We are broadened by the experiences of our lives -- those experiences at home and those abroad.
Those times I am away from my home not only provides a rest physically, but frees me from many of my daily mental requirements. However vacation days demand new tasks. Which roads must be taken – which restaurants – etc. Shifting mental gears is as necessary to our wellbeing as progressing through the ratios on cars are needed to reach the destination we desire. Time away forces us to think about other things while it frees us from the everyday.
A grand adventure I undertook that summer years ago. Sleeping in the space I made in my Plymouth Duster – on a sheet of plywood which replaced the back seat. I will not lie and tell you that it was roomy or comfortable. Yet those days remain among my fondest memories. You see it was the first time I was truly -- away. The first time I traveled -- really traveled -- alone. The first time I saw Sleeping Bear Dunes, crossed the Mackinac Bridge, drove through mile after mile of north wood, and the first time I heard a bear in the wild. Yes, it was a time “away” – but more – it was a time “to”.
(369 Words) 8-7-2014