A time to do and a time to rest
Updated: Jul 1
Summer has firmly set in Europe and most of us are thinking of a well deserved longer or shorter break. But what if this year's holiday could be the gateway to something much bigger?
Many years ago I went on a 10 day safari to Africa. It was during this holiday that I dared to dream and have seen myself do it: take some time off from work and return to Africa, for a much longer trip this time. I did not think it was possible at first but it soon became reality. All the 8 months and about 20,000 miles of it. And so, I learned that taking time off can be done.
Taking time off means exactly that. Take time off from your day-to-day life. Take a sabbatical from work. Tell your spouse you need some time off to resettle yourself. Go to a different place from the one in which you live. Take time off from your social life, from your daily obligations, from your plans and schedules. Just take time off.
The Aboriginal population of Australia has an interesting concept similar to time off. It’s called walkabout. It’s actually a rite of passage in which an Aboriginal male goes off by himself to spend six months or longer in the wilderness to make the transition into adulthood. Basically the purpose of the journey is to get in touch with their inner power and come back to the tribe as grown men ready to assume adult obligations. The modern rite of taking a gap year to go travel serves exactly the same purpose. In order to find out who we are we need to go look for ourselves, and this cannot be done in our usual day-to- day environment.
As adults, we may feel we don’t need a rite of passage into adulthood any more. But we may need periods of time when all that we do is get back in touch with our own power. And the best way to do this is give it the time and the space to renew itself.
Our working lives are designed to revolve around short holiday periods: a few days off for Christmas, perhaps a week’s skiing, or two weeks on a beach if we’re lucky. Usually during the first days of the holiday, we are still wired into the habitual day-to-day rush of our lives. We check emails on the beach, we wake up early, and we still aren’t disconnected from the problems we left back home. if we're lucky enough and can take two weeks of holidays, something different starts happening towards the end of the second week: we start stepping into another world where the life we left back home starts to fade and we get in touch with different parts of ourselves; parts we have not felt for a long time. We might remember some deep, buried passion. We might get ideas about what we want to do with our lives next; we connect deeper to our families and friends, to nature.
Something even stranger happens if the break lasts longer than two weeks. By the end of the third week the feeling of dread about going back to the rush starts to dissipate. After four weeks it goes away completely, as if there’s nothing to go back to; as if the life you had before happened on another planet. You start living in the present.
Assuming you have planned your time off well, you have taken care of your financial, social and practical obligations back home and don’t have to deal with these worries, taking time off, longer than a usual vacation, is one of the most powerful detox boosts you can give to your energy. You give it time to heal, to resettle, to rest, to grow.
Taking time off takes you back to a white piece of paper, to time 0, to the point of creation. By taking time off, you send a powerful message to your energy. You say, “I am looking after you, I’m giving you an opportunity to grow and replenish yourself. Then you can tell me what I am to do next.” Taking time off makes space for the new to come into your life. It is during this time of not doing that you actually build your strong foundations for your next phase of doing.