Off and On

We got back last night from three weeks in Holland. Three long short weeks away from our routine, enjoying family, walks and bike rides, good food, playing, seeing sights.

In a resolve to fully unplug during our vacation, I left my laptop behind. My tendency to be “always on” is only compounded by the possibilities afforded by technology, and I knew I needed to take full advantage of these precious days away to enjoy our family and the wonders of the offline world. My soul needed it. While I definitely didn’t stay away from the internet, I did pretty well at not working, not obsessing over my many to-do lists that occupy so much of my mental space.

The Silent Spaces

Count Basie nothin

Rob Bell once pointed out that what makes music great is not only the sound, but the silences in between sounds. A snare drum hit is only significant because of the moments of silence between hits. Music sounds great because of the silence surrounding each note.

The great jazz pianist Count Basie was known more for what he didn’t play than the notes he did play. He played no unnecessary notes, no “fillers”. It’s the spaces of silence (the times he “didn’t do nothin’”) that made his and his band’s music great.

I’m learning the value of silent spaces in life. Vacations, sabbaths, sabbaticals, our bodies and souls need them. They’re what makes our music sound good.

Fresh Pair of Eyes

Maybe real madness is only seeing the world as it is and not as it should be.

– Don Quixote of La Mancha

I had expectations of what vacation would do to me. Some earth-shattering realizations, or maybe even get some new superpowers (on top of the ones I already have, of course). While I don’t think I felt much different on our last day in Holland than three weeks before, I noticed the difference as soon as we came home last night.

Three weeks ago I left behind dreary routines and demanding to-do lists. Yesterday I came back to possibility. Like our yard, which is now green and in bloom, my eyes are fresh and looking expectantly to the weeks ahead with energy and anticipation.

If you’re saying, “Man, I need a vacation,” I hope you take one soon. You’re music will sound better after you do.


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