Vacations

 

Puffins

Yet the news about him spread all the more, so that crowds of people came to hear him and to be healed of their sicknesses. But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.” Luke 5:15, 16.

Having just returned from an almost month-long holiday with my family in Europe, I was reflecting on what I accomplished. First, I honored my wife’s request to make the vacation a real vacation, and not be distracted by doing “work” – in my case, blogging, and interacting with the many men that I have been mentoring recently.

I covered this theme in an earlier post entitled “Free Days” which is a concept we used in a life coaching class I took over 20 years ago.  The idea behind “free days” is that you should plan your schedule to include a reasonable number of free days – days that are devoid of work where you are truly off duty.  Staying in touch via text or email or phone is frowned on.  And you can’t cheat by playing golf with a client or customer.

The idea is that we all need a breather from our occupations (in my case, my avocations). It is a biblical concept, because Jesus took time to withdraw from the crowds. It is a time of refreshment. A time to pause and smell the roses. A time to spend valuable time with your family. It is a time for replenishment of your emotional tank.

For most of us (including me), we often ignore our emotional tank, and the stress of work and life can take its toll.  For men, it is often hard, because we are taught to tough it out and “don’t let anyone see you sweat”.  If you are really drowning emotionally or are depressed, it is countercultural to let others know you are barely making it and are just hanging on.

This is particularly true of the millennials who have exhibited to isolation leading to loneliness and clinical depression.  The suicide rates are alarming in this age group. Recent studies have shown this, and it is something that needs to be addressed by parents and mentors. Many of them don’t realize their plight, to their detriment.

One other accomplishment of our trip is that we got to spend quality time with Sarah, our 11-year-old granddaughter.  The idea of the trip was initiated when my youngest son’s twins played in a soccer tournament outside of Barcelona for a week. We decided to  come along and take another of our other grandkids with us and make it into a tour of Europe – seven countries in all.

The trip accomplished several things. For Sarah, she got to see things she always wanted to see – the Eiffel Tower in Paris, the Tower of Big Ben in London, Mad Ludwig’s castle in Bavaria (the one that ended up being the model for Disneyland).  Better yet, we spent valuable time together having fun.

It was a rare opportunity to have those one on one (or in our case, one on two) moments for almost a month. To walk together, laugh together, rush to a plane together, and sometimes sleep in hotels with cramped quarters.

She will remember it the rest of her life. Not just memories of the places she visited, but the time she spent with us.  You see, we were mentoring her in a very natural way. She learned to adjust to new currencies and exchange rates, and to navigate in places where the language was foreign. She learned to choose her food on menus that weren’t in English.

She learned to take care of her stuff and pack sensibly. My rule of travel when it comes to packing is that if you can’t wear it, or can’t carry it, don’t bring it. We rarely checked bags on 11 airplane flights.  Having been a travel warrior in my career, I know what a mess it becomes if your bag gets misplaced. It is even more troublesome if you are on the move and not going to stay in one place for more than a day or two.

She learned that her grandparents were not perfect, and that we all had our moments, but that we always managed to resolve them quickly. She learned to do Sudoku with Sis, she read a lot and was very engaged on what we were doing or considering options of things that we could do. We literally watched her grow up by the time the trip was through.

So now we have a template of our role as grandparents.  Taking one or two of our grandchildren on an adventure that is geared to their interests. Sarah loves travel, so that was easy. Our other grandkids all want to know where we are taking them, now that we have set this precedent. As long as our health holds out, we will continue this tradition with the others.

I did similar things with my children and my own father. I went on an Outward Bound expedition with my eldest son when he was in high school.  With my daughter (Sarah’s mom), I took her on a weekend trip to San Francisco.

It was also something I did with my own father about a year before he died. He was living in San Francisco when he met and married my mother. I remember sitting at a restaurant in San Franciso with my father and recounting details of trips we had taken together years before. He was amazed that I remembered the details, many of which he had forgotten.

I never really knew my own grandparents. My mother’s parents all died early, and my father’s grandparents lived 3000 miles away and didn’t have the resources to visit frequently. I feel like I missed some deep connection with my past. Most of what I know about my grandparents came from conversations about them with my parents, rather than personal interaction.

I have frequently said that our legacy is to leave our fingerprints on our grandchildren – all over them, for that matter. We want them to know us and what we are like (the good, the bad, and hopefully not the ugly). We want them to know our Christian values and how that plays out in everyday life.  We want to plant memories that will last a lifetime.

Our challenge is to take time away from the stresses of life and encourage others to do the same.  Make sure you spend it with family because, at the end of the day, that’s our legacy.  You may not be able to do what we just did, but you can figure out ways to do something special.  As the saying goes, you only live once, and you may not have opportunities later. It’s time to live for the moment, not the future.

MENTORING TIP: The next generation that you interact with may be struggling with depression. If possible, spend time with them doing something together so you can get a sense of their emotional well-being. Emphasize that taking time off is important.

FURTHER STUDY:  Studies by Barna and Pew Research have all consistently shown a high level of depression and suicide in the millennial generation. See my post entitled “Loneliness” which was posted on July 4, 2017.

WORSHIP: Listen to Tommy Walker sing “Taste and See

COMMENT:  I would be delighted at comments on this or any other post. You can comment by clicking on the icon at the top of the page, or emailing me at otterpater@nc.rr.com.

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