Some people lead busy, active lives. Their idea of a vacation might be resting, reading, or dozing on the beach. Other people whose lives are scheduled, routine, and sedentary might choose a vacation filled with plenty of things to do and places to see. But my idea of a vacation is a rest from thinking.
Like many people, I work with words all day and sometimes all evening. Reading, writing, editing, revising, and communicating with others constantly engages my full set of verbal skills. My idea of a rest – a genuine, complete rest – is to quiet that part of my brain that deals with all that verbal traffic. I picture the perfect getaway for my mind, my cerebrum swinging in a brain-sized hammock on the sand, an iced drink beside it on a little table (it would necessarily have to raise that glass by psychokinesis, because no arms, but…). My brain would lazily swing back and forth, back and forth, chewing a piece of mental gum and occasionally blowing a sticky bubble, enjoying its respite from books, the Internet, and email. It would be feeling and not thinking, which it did on my most recent trip to our local museum.
At that time there was a special exhibit I was eager to see. One weekend I did so, taking my brain along for the ride, making sure its seatbelt was duly fastened and that I had admission tickets for both of us. The following Monday I related my trip to one of my co-workers, who was aghast that I hadn’t rented a pair of headphones to accompany my walk through the exhibit. I explained to her that I’d gone there not to learn or to think but to feel, but she didn’t understand. Why go to a museum in order not to learn? But I had, and I’m not sorry. I and my brain had gone on an emotional road trip, had come back refreshed, and life was good again.
Photography is another nonverbal activity which refreshes me. Through images, it expresses emotions and thoughts on a deeper level than any set of words ever could. When I am on a photographing expedition I use my brain in an entirely new way than I do in my daily life. I look at angles, lighting and shadows, and groupings, expressing through various arrangements of those elements what I feel about what I see through my view finder. When I come away from a successful “hunt” with my trophies, I feel as rested and relaxed as many people would feel returning from a trip to the Bahamas.
No matter what I do with my off time, when I (and my brain) switch back from resting to reading, writing, and the Internet again, I realize how much I have missed these things and that my vagabond self is returning to the place I truly belong.