My week in Block Island was planned when 2020 was looking like any other year.
Right now, the idea of a vacation or time away is causing real consternation for many.
Those lucky enough to have jobs find themselves exhausted from six months of heads-down work where time off just feels weird – “bad” even? There’s either no place to go or going seems to be the wrong thing to do. Work seems extra serious right now – we might miss something important if we leave, let somebody down, or worse yet, not be considered a team player when it matters most. For many, staying put is just easier. Yet the effects show – and after a while, they become hard to hide at all.
So, I have and always will, encourage my folks to take time off. If you’ve been following for a while, you know how important I believe breaks are. Time to reset your mind and renew your energy.
A Burkhard tradition.
What started as a spontaneous decision thirty years ago to pack up the car, pick a direction, and explore, has now become a Burkhard tradition.
In 1990, Kim and I took a post-college graduation trip to Rhode Island. We were young and full of wanderlust staying in $19-dollar motels that included a full, but questionable, steak dinner. It was perfect.
In 2006, we attempted to recreate this road trip with my growing kids, Josh, 8, and Hallie, 11, along for the ride. We weren’t as broke, but the kids were accustomed to structured days, Boston Market for dinner, and the familiarity of home.
Heading North into Rhode Island, my young family stumbled upon a departing ferry for Block Island. We packed our backpacks with no guarantee of a place to stay and eventually found shelter at the Hygeia House, an old bed and breakfast with views of the water and a short walk to the beach. That, too, was perfect.
Block Island 2020 was meant to be the vacation of all vacations. Fair to say, we had some pent-up exploring and unwinding to do. Kim and I were incredibly excited to travel with our now grown kids to the island for the first time since their trip as little ones. Along with their friends, we invited them to fill the big house on the hill with stories of the past, laughter, and days planned with the perfect balance of doing everything and a whole lot of nothing at all. It was going to be perfect.
Until the tire light came on at Exit 7 of the Jersey Turnpike about 2.5 hours into our journey. I’m a guy who prides himself on stoic thinking – control your mind, it’s all you can truly control. I preach it, I teach it – and I chose not to practice it for about an hour or so on that road. Would you believe four years earlier the same tire had a leak on Block Island? Was I jinxed?
Poor Jeremy – our hero from Pep Boys. I was going to use every ounce of my charm, sales skills, Dale Carnegie human-relations principles, and wallet for this situation to go our way. He had seven of us staring at him after we unloaded a week’s worth of food, beverages, luggage, and bedding onto his parking lot. Thank you, Jeremy, of East Brunswick Pep Boys, for putting up with my crew and me and for being so darn nice and understanding.
Being in control is easy when you have no expectations of perfection.
When we want and need everything to be perfect, and then it’s not – that’s where the real test lies. An hour or so after the tire light made its appearance – I caught on, started to smile, made the best of the situation, and started to have fun. I was blessed to even be on vacation, how dare I feel sorry for myself.
Years from now, my family will talk more about our time in that parking lot as Jeremy changed our tire than the beach or bike rides on the island. And just like the trips before, Block Island 2020 was perfect – in it’s own imperfect way.
You don’t have to travel far to take time to recharge – and you don’t have to feel guilty for asking for it.
If you’re able, plan a couple of days off within the next month to reconnect with yourself. We race through life, and the constant action and business distract us from actually thinking about what we’re doing, what’s important, whether we are happy, and what we are going to do about it if we’re not.
Now, after I trust you scheduled some well-deserved out-of-office time, please share your favorite vacation stories or lessons learned. We could all benefit from a chuckle!
Quote of the week:
“My first day back to work has inspired me to book my next vacation.”
If you need an escape, try – Undaunted Courage, the Story of Lewes and Clark.
If you need a stiff drink of reality (and a reminder this too shall pass), try – The Great Influenza.
If you’re interested in self-reflection and improvement, try – Meta Human by Deepak Chopra.
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