June 24, 2011

The Art of Being Idle

School’s out! Dutch children have to do with a meager six weeks summer holiday, but here in Lebanon, we do it differently. My daughter has eleven weeks; her brother gets fourteen (!) before he returns to the classroom. I get a lousy eight weeks, but knowing that the poor inhabitants of the ‘no vacation nationget only 10 days off with pay, and will in general not take all as it “ might look like they're not committed to their job“’, I guess I will take my eight weeks without complaining.
Beirut's new skyline
Most Lebanese will spend their holidays in country, but move to the mountains where the ancestral family home awaits in order to escape the smothering heat that is upon us now. This has been an unusually pleasant spring. I am used to Junes in oppressive heat, when you take a shower in the morning, and while drying off, you’re sweating again. This June has been cool (in comparison) with some pleasant showers. This Global Warming climate changing pattern has been kind to us so far. 

School's finally out!

The kids jump right into the holiday; they have no problem with being idle. They can make the switch instantaneously. When you leave for work in the morning, they lay sprawled on the couches in the living room. 
What are you going to do today?”
Uhh, dunno. Beach maybe.”
And then when you come home from work, they still lay on that same couch.
What did you do today?”
Uhhh, dunno. Nothing.”

Bijschrift toevoegen
I need a week or two (yes, of the precious eight) before I’m off ‘default mode’ and into ‘idle mode’. My default mode causes me to start cleaning and organizing the entire house, room by room. Or at least, rearranging the mess that I haven’t touched for months. Since last summer probably. I also get into this huge discard mood, which doesn’t happen very often and so I use it wisely; I throw everything out. Usually it’s stuff you haven’t used for at least two years, and of course, once thrown away, is what you need about two weeks later. I also tend to replace burnt out light bulbs. I do this only once a year, when I'm off for the summer. So you can imagine that around May, we live practically in the dark.

But being idle is good for you. I just read that city people have stressed-out brains. ‘People who live in the city, show more activity in the part of the brains which are associated with depression, anxiety and violence,’ according to a Dutch research. (source)

An ice cream a day ......
And so ‘Doing nothing is, however, very good for the mind, body and spirit” (another source) .

It seems that (and I quote) ‘The holiday, or holy day, has its origin as a break from toil and commerce, and was a chance to meditate, contemplate and reflect on spiritual matters.’ I'm not idle enough yet, but I'm getting there.

1 comment:

Danielle said...

I can totally relate! Every day that passes while I'm on vacation in Miami, I think to myself.. "Ok, today I'm going to do nothing, and not feel bad about it." But it never seems to happen! I've bought work-related books to keep my mind active, I've committed myself to blogging at least 2-3 times a week..I've been helping my Mom with her hectic drop and pick up schedule..and I have found a way to run around every single day, just like I did when I was living here..it's something about the States. It really is. Can't wait to go to Trinidad and then Montreal tho..that's where the real relaxation is going to set in! Enjoy your holiday..and wait, your company gives you 8 weeks of paid leave? That's insane!