Why We Panic On Vacation


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We live in an age when even taking a vacation is a challenge.

Think about that.

What strange times these are.

In a study this year by LinkedIn, more than half of all millennial survey respondents (56 percent) said they let vacation days fall by the wayside, even when they knew they needed them, for fear of things piling up at work while away.

They are afraid to disconnect.

And to truly be on vacation, to get away, we need to disconnect.

study by the University of Texas and HomeAway found that working during travel decreases trip memorability by 43 percent and that people who used their phones for more than two hours each day were 26 percent more likely to have trouble remembering their vacations.

Disconnection, I’ve observed, means different things to different people, so I’ll define it here for our mutual benefit: the complete removal of oneself from looking at, interacting in and obsessing over email, social media of all types, and surfing the web.

The opposite of disconnection is connection to oneself, to real life in the world that is right here in front of us: the people, the sun, the feelings, the senses, and the being.

In the sticky spider web of connectivity we have tangled ourselves in, disconnection is an act of will, of courage, of trust.

Anything that requires these three qualities is tough.

Our constant connectedness is catnip for the ego mind and its edict that we are the most important part of this universe. It manifests by saying, “But I need to respond to this email!” and “But if I don’t post, people will worry,” and “But if I am not present, I will lose my standing/my audience/my appeal/my power” and “If I don’t do this now, I’ll probably get fired!”

The truth is that the world keeps spinning if you step out of the adhesive binds of your connections. If you stay silent instead, and listen to yourself and your loved ones, no one online will be the worse for it. I promise.

I know, I just did it myself. And I have good news to report: After two weeks without my usual connections, I feel lighter. I feel clearer.

That is not to say it wasn’t a challenge. It was. I felt pulled to it most days. But I decided to disconnect, so I did.

This disconnection story does not come with some huge revelation about the meaning of life or the purpose of my soul — although I mused on both of those topics during my time away.

It simply comes with the observation that without the constant distraction of media, I had a chance to be quiet, to be, to feel things, to be uncomfortable, to wonder, to grieve, to enjoy, to sleep soundly — without giving those moments away to anyone else.

I also had the chance to see that for the last few years in particular, I have been running nearly nonstop with my thinking mind. Its task: to figure it all out.

Our world is full to the breaking point of input, of timely information, of eye-widening opportunities. The way our minds are engineered, we need to completely process, descramble, take advantage of, share and solve, solve, solve.

It’s exhausting to not just me, but to all of us.

In the quiet space where I wasn’t doing that, I realized how futile that approach was. There’s nothing to figure out. Life is not some equation. It won’t be solved, no matter what the variables or the formula I use.

There’s no proof for the path I am taking.

Following the pursuit of the soul is not a set roadway or a linear timetable.

It’s about following the heart and making the next best decision I can.

After years (read: my entire life) of obsessing over doing things right with my education, my career, my relationships, or my newly launched business, I have found in this case, there truly is no right answer.

What a relief.