Tuesday, June 28, 2011

what it takes to relax

It took me a while to relax during our vacation - away from home, our kids, our responsibilities, our crazy-busy lives.  One friend told me that it always takes her at least a day to relax.  Another friend told me it takes her at least two days.  I thought, and told someone after I had returned home, that I was relaxed as soon as we backed out of our driveway.  But, now I realize that I didn't fully relax until the last day - the fourth day of the vacation.
I realized this today when I recalled a conversation my husband and I had on the beach the third day there.  We had been sitting in our rented beach chairs, reading our separate books, being soothed by the repeating gentle crash of the ocean waves.  We were gathering our things and heading back to our hotel for dinner.

"So, have you had any epiphanies during our vacation?"  I suddenly asked my husband.
"No, I don't think so."
"You mean you haven't learned anything new, about yourself or about life, during the last three days?"  I encouraged.
"Um, nope."
"Really?  Nothing?"
"Well, what are we going to talk about then?"  I continued.
"What do you mean?"
"Well, I need to be intellectually stimulated.  Don't you have anything interesting to tell me?"  (Because, as you know, I always have lots to talk about, but he seemed so quiet so I thought I should encourage him to... share.)
"Um, nope."
"Look, I'm on vacation.  I don't have to think.  And, I am not going to think."
"Okay, fine."

Oh, I was so put out.  Our relationship is built largely on our ability to have interesting conversation.  That is one huge reason I fell in love with my husband.  He is fascinating to me.  I love talking with him, especially reasoning through problems and solutions.  I love how his mind works.  But, as I often do, I decided to file this conversation away and analyze it later.
I realize now that at that point my husband had already relaxed.  He had given in and was completely de-stressed.  And, for some reason I somehow needed him to give me permission to relax also.  And this conversation gave it to me.

After that I stopped trying to initiate conversation unnecessarily.  Instead I decided just to be there and enjoy it.  The fourth day, we read for hours.  On the beach in chairs.  On a bench on the boardwalk.  On a grassy hill overlooking the bay.  At the airport while waiting for our plane.  We hardly talked at all.  We just smiled at each other.  Held hands.  Ate random meals.  And soaked it all in.  It was amazing for me.  I don't know that I have ever felt so relaxed in my entire life.

So, would I shorten our vacation if I planned it again (as I had been silently thinking)?  No way.  Apparently I needed the entire four days - away.


Wife of a Resident said...

I think men, particularly those in the medical field, have this innate ability to relax in a few moments much like they can fall asleep without much effort. My mind is always working, maybe that's because I am a professional mother and relax and sleep are foreign concepts to begin with. You did take my dream vacation though - reading on the beach for days on end, that's my kind of trip! Glad you were able to relax eventually!

Lindsey said...

Hey! Glad you got a vacation. Without kids! How would that be... You know, I think I would do the same thing, I think I would just let my brain shut down and enjoy not having to think. Oh, sounds wonderful.