Today, between the DMV and the shopping errands, I started to wonder what self care really looks like in "real life", by which I mean work life. After all, here I was still on my vacation yet the people at the DMV were all back to work (and downright cheerful!); and later at the Michael's store we landed with the cashier who also waitresses at a local Thai place and works as a decorator at Gigi's cupcakes. We run into that young woman all over town because of the number of jobs she works! So here I drift, still in the leisurely blush of my vacation days, wondering about how to maintain some sanity when returning to work, while painfully aware of the luxury of asking the question.
It's so easy, during the vacation days, to spend enough time with loved ones, to sleep enough, to eat when hungry, to let the mind wander, to do a few things that need doing, but not drive too hard. It's like a Garden of Eden, or at least in my imagination this is what the Garden looks like. Later, the vacation ends and we are again cast out of Eden and into the daily grind with the ploughs or pencils to push and the nagging bits opportunistically fixing their teeth into our heels.
I like the Eden story for its metaphorical qualities and also for the way it teaches me about what it is to be human--forces me to confront, or wrestle with, that drive I have to work without ceasing. The image of Eden allows me to notice how easy it is for me, when caught up in work, to forget to return to the Garden. We need the Garden for refreshment and for getting back in touch with our true selves and our true loves and our true nature as beings who form part of God's good creation. Without the Garden we become too hungry, too thirsty, spiritually.
What if I returned home from work each evening and imagined the homecoming as a return to Eden? Would that allow me to approach the home time differently? What if returning to Eden meant leaving the computer and iPad at work? What if it meant spending more time, less distractedly, with my family? What if I chose not to look at any news past 7 or 8 o'clock, and went to bed early enough to sleep 8 hours before 6 a.m.? What if I got back in the habit of taking a walk every night?
My next move, typically, would be to regiment each of the above as a series of self improvements, virtually guaranteeing that they would feel more like work than like Eden. (Can you smell the workahol?)
So I think I'll take a step back from the self improvement plan, and choose to be, just to be, in the Garden. May the vacation, however long or short, be an opportunity to become reacquainted with Eden and with our creature nature - created in the image of a God who loves us for who we are, not for what we accomplish, and who calls us to love ourselves, and one another, in this way too.