“There are many going afar to marvel at the heights of mountains, the mighty waves of the sea, the long courses of great rivers, the vastness of the ocean, the movement of the stars, yet they leave themselves unnoticed!” -Saint Augustine.
When I first started telling people about my plan to spend 3 weeks of my summer in LA doing intensive, brain-numbing work with my voice teacher and coach, many sarcastic quips were uttered along the lines of “great vacation. I’d rather go shopping or enjoy the beaches of LA.”
There is, of course, a time and place for resting, for relaxing, for allowing your body and mind to slow down, to calm, and to regroup. There is also a time to explore, experience new things, and get away from the “everyday.” However, we often spend our lives exploring the outside in order to hide from exploring our minds, souls, and selves. We bury our troubles and dreams deep down and look for joy, freedom, acceptance, and success on the outside rather than experiencing it inside. Just as most of us instantly turn on the tv at the end of a grueling workday to get away from reality, we often take vacations in order to get away from ourselves.
So, instead of vacations, I take time each year to completely immerse in something. I take the time to grow, to be introspective, to learn, and to find out exactly who I am. Last year it was an intensive month-long yoga teacher training; this year it is a 3-week opera immersion. Yes, it’s difficult. Yes, it’s nothing like lying on the beach and getting a tan. Yes, some days I just want to call it quits and go relax by the pool. But, I will leave this experience a better person, a better singer, and a better teacher. I will have learned something about myself, my art, and the world around me.
So, the next time you need to use up your vacation time or want to get away from it all, consider something different– something radical. Seek awareness inside rather than satisfaction on the outside. Grow a little. That’s where true joy lies, and what a fascinating journey it is.
Happy trails explorer!