The thing about a vacation is this: it’s not really your real life. And most of what you do on vacation is an active escape from the day-to-day that normally defines you. Play-acting in that parallel vacation universe helps you to forget and to unwind. It helps you let go just a little bit, hopefully just enough, of the stuff—all the stuff—that can weigh you down at home.
I’ve been thinking about the heart of the word vacation. We vacate when we empty our houses for other places, or even when we voluntarily leave our workplaces for the sheer purpose of doing nothing. But the real vacation happens when we find that we’ve somehow managed to empty ourselves, unwittingly making room for fresh feelings and hopes and perspectives to take up residence and nest inside us, healing the bits that needed healing. And so—
And so, perhaps the heart of my vacation in Cap Ferret had little to do with food or wine or anything you could or couldn’t buy. It had nothing to do with the house we rented. Or the fancy people who were renting much fancier houses. The heart of my vacation was when I hit “empty.” And that amazing thing happened when I found myself alone in the middle of a place which, in the modern sense of the word, was itself quite eloquently empty…in a place where there were no other people (for that moment), where nothing was happening, where nothing was for sale, nothing was entertaining me…where nothing nothing mattered except just being there, being still, being empty enough to take it all in. Because in actual fact, the place where I found myself, was perfectly, abundantly, profoundly full.