I was born a “Type A,” so I’m only truly comfortable when I’m climbing Mt. Everest. As soon as I reach the summit, I feel compelled to ascend a higher peak. My legendary discipline gets me into the gym every day and allows me to waive away even the most scrumptious dessert. I’m the rare student who’s never ever pulled an all-nighter. What for? I always have plenty of time to prepare and am chomping at the bit to take the test. While many admire my drive, I believe it to be some sort of mysterious birth defect that did not afflict my siblings.
One obvious downside of my over-amped drive to succeed is the vacation conundrum. When I was a partner in a law firm, working 80 hour weeks, I’d take, at most, one vacation week per year, and invariably fall ill immediately upon arriving at my leisure destination. I’ve since read that this is a fairly common phenomenon among the super-stressed. At the time, I used it as further justification for deferring sabbaticals from the office. Why bother, I reasoned, I’d just be more stressed when I returned to a two-foot high in-box.
My early retirement from law and remarriage to my soul mate threw a monkey wrench into my workaholic comfort zone. With my permission, my husband, who likes to play as much as I like to work, now serves as my chill out life coach. When I attempt to fend off the prospect of five days away from the grind by saying I can’t be away from my business that long, he counters with the fact that he’s run his own business for 35 years and has taken regular, frequent vacations. My retort that “my business is still a start-up,” doesn’t fly. So, for the last eight years, I’ve succumbed to the “chore” of trying to unwind amid the calming breezes and mesmerizing turquoise-blue waters of Hawaii.
Despite several years of practice, I’m still a slacker novice. Relaxing is a skill I never acquired, so passing the day “having fun” is a foreign concept. My inability to unwind can be traced to the fact that as a young child, I appointed myself mediator of my parent’s constant bickering. In other words, I was born an adult.
But, I do see some progress. In the last few years, I’ve been able to get through a week away without contracting a virus. And I am improving, even in infinitesimally, in the hang loose category. I used to embark on excursion after excursion to rack up leisure accomplishments. Zip lining, hang gliding, horseback riding down a volcano, I’ve tried them all.
This year I realized that I had exhausted the new adventures and had no choice but to take another leap towards normalcy. My latest tactic is to plan nothing other than where to eat dinner. I’ve discovered that I am indeed capable of spending a half-hour reading a girly health and fitness magazine or taking a walk on the beach. In my warped world this constitutes progress. While I’m not sure I’ll ever be a true vacationer–trundling down to the beach adorned with floppy beach hat, steamy novel tucked under my arm, snacking on junk food and downing beers—I am making tortoise-like progress.
Oy vey. As they say, it’s hard to get out of your comfort zone. Can anyone relate?