We returned home from a short “vacation” at the beach a few days ago. I say “vacation” because I didn’t vacate from anything except the dishes. I packed all of my concerns in the beach bag, along with too much sunscreen and a number of books I never had the chance to read. I realize more and more that the busyness of life isn’t always the biggest obstacle to enjoying a time of rest. The biggest obstacle is my complete inability to turn off my brain.
We stayed busy. We walked the boardwalk and visited friends and watched the kids ride tiny, Jersey-size waves in surf school. We bought two hermit crabs, and in a twist of epic sibling rivalry and undisguised nudginess, they both ended up with the name Dolphie. Or Dolphy, depending on who you ask. Hermie is apparently passé in the Coyle household.
I attempted to read a book, but the time became so fractured with our comings and goings, that I resigned myself to the fact that this season is for living out loud, not escaping into the quiet of a few pages. I opened my computer once. I didn’t write, I avoided Facebook, and only posted photos to twitter. And even then, I couldn’t escape that nagging feeling that something hidden in the recesses needed my attention.
Every morning when I wake up, I take a quick assessment of my emotions. I complete a quick mental inventory in an attempt to understand why I woke up feeling angry, joyful, sad, rested, bored, worried, hurt, rushed, excited, etc. Do you do this too? If the kids acted crazy the night before, or my husband and I argued, I place my finger on it immediately. Otherwise, I dig a little deeper. Was it the phone call I received? The satisfying conversation? The new dress I bought? The deadline? The jam-packed day ahead? The book I read before bed?
On vacation, I try to put this part of my brain on hold. I wake up and allow myself to feel peace, an emotion I’m not super-familiar with on a daily basis. This summer, I’m grasping for it, trying to find a foothold where there seem to be none. I have no legitimate reason as to why, but peace and rest remain elusive. There is an internal nagging, a nudge, pushing me towards discontent and pulling me away from peace. No amount of sand and surf can compete with this internal tug of war.
Today, I woke up in my own bed. I assessed, I inventoried, I recognized I need a mental vacation, rather than a physical one. I need to lay a few things down to rest. I need to choose, rather than wait for peace.
Where do you find rest? Is it a place? A person? An activity, or the lack thereof?