There’s something to be said for a good vacation.

It’s so easy to get caught up in the structure of work, so much so that we think a week of leisure will do some sort of irreparable damage to the continuum of the job.

Work is great; time off is critical.

Those of us who love our jobs would probably work for nothing, if faced with a choice.

But several days into a real vacation, we realize the hours of the day during which we are not working for pay afford us both an important respite and time to divert our psyches to seemingly mundane activities such as gazing at a descending sun, watching the ocean waves roll in or observing a farmer bale hay in a distant field.

Those are the kinds of things that help recharge our batteries, allowing us to return to work refreshed and ready to pursue new ideas.

The English Romantic poet, William Wordsworth, said it best in “The World Is Too Much With Us”:

“The world is too much with us; late and soon,

Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers;

Little we see in nature that is ours;

We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!”

Structure is great. My father used to say work is an antidote to many of life’s miseries: If you’re hungry, work; if you’re troubled, work; if your friends disappoint you, work; if you are depressed, work; and so on.

I’ve found that to be true.

How do you feel after having weeded your vegetable garden, painted the garage, washed floors, baked the day’s meals and cleaned the basement of unnecessary things?

There’s a great sense of achievement to be had from work for both mental and physical health.

I spent my first vacation this summer toiling away preparing the house for company and the camp for our seasonal stay. We painted the garage walls and floor, stained the deck, planted, weeded and landscaped, vacuumed, scrubbed, polished and spit-shined ’til our fingers were raw.

The places looked great, but I was so exhausted, my feet and knees hurt, my head was spinning and my brain was fried.

I vowed to make my second summer vacation more normal — to spend more time with family and do things I enjoy. I cleaned the camp again, but kept it to a minimum. My sister, Jane, and I thoroughly cleaned a family home in preparation for more company, scouring and scrubbing in 90-degree temperatures and being way too fussy.

“We are scullery maids!” Jane declared on the second day.

I probably weeded a little too much and too assiduously, spent a bit too much time hurrying around, did an acceptable amount of shopping for things I do not need but like to look at and read a fair amount, but did not take much time to decompress.

My third summer vacation is approaching.

I will, I vow, do more for myself: see at least one movie, read one or two good books, swim, watch the sun go up and down and the tide go in and out, and recline, breathe and snooze.

Running makes for an interesting life, but when we stop, we wonder where it all went and how it fled so quickly.

Walking gives us time to enjoy and reflect.

Stopping, absolutely the most critical action of all, allows us to exhale.

A few years ago I sat with friends, Tony and Mary, who were in their 80s, and we watched a video of a play they starred in 25 years prior. They darted across the stage, all energy and enthusiasm — young, vibrant and full of life.

“Where did 25 years go?” Tony mused, watching. “It seems like yesterday.”

When he died a couple of years later, Mary, grieving, said, “I only wish we had stopped to smell the flowers.”

Those words come back to me, especially when life seems to be on fast-forward, day spins quickly into night, and the world is whirring out of control.

It’s precisely then I know that V-A-C-A-T-I-O-N is in order.

And one calling for little work, less obligation and more fun.

Amy Calder has been a Morning Sentinel reporter 26 years. Her column appears here Mondays. She may be reached at [email protected]

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