As you may or may not know, Paul and I just got back from vacation. From outsider’s perspective it might seem that we take a lot of them, but the reality isn’t quite so rosy. I travel a lot for work (like a LOT A LOT) and due to that he can travel for free anywhere I go. On top of that thanks to airline points it’s generally free for me to fly for pleasure too which means it’s pretty easy for us to pop over to visit friends in San Francisco or Denver for a four day weekend.
But that’s not a vacation.
Everyone’s definition of a vacation naturally varies quite a bit- for me, it’s the time and ability to put down my worldly responsibilities, have no plan and no schedule, and just relax. It can be in the wilderness or in a city, it can be stateside or international, it just needs to jar me enough that my routine gets disrupted. I don’t think we’ve had a single ‘vacation’ like that since before we were married and went to Italy, so we felt it was high time. We spent 9 days in Puerto Vallarta unplugging and unwinding ocean and poolside with our biggest worry being what’s the exchange rate to pesos and what time the two for one happy hour ended at the pool. Needless to say it was FANTASTIC and it’s all I can do to convince myself to not go back for our anniversary. We probably will anyway.
Shockingly enough I didn’t sit down tonight to write this to talk about our vacation, though the picture with this post come from a nice spent at the rooftop infinity pool eating tacos with some new friends. Instead I want to talk about the feeling I had post vacation, that’s slowly grown on me over the course of getting back into our lives. I’m sure most people are familiar with the emotional slump of coming back from vacation- we’ve all been there amiright?! but this seemed something more. The inexorable march toward my 40th birthday probably played a large part in the direction of my thoughts too if I’m being honest.
In her standup “Live at the Filmore” Aisha Tyler cracks wise about getting older and not feeling effective, and worrying that it’s suddenly harder to get out of bed each day. That’s what I’ve been feeling all week- ineffective! It came out of the blue, I couldn’t pin it to one single event; it just slowly rolled down the hill picking up steam until come Saturday morning it flattened the shit out of me. I realized I felt like I was floundering, that I couldn’t seem to make any forward motion in life, and I was just EXHAUSTED for no goddamn good reason. Why? Because I was spreading myself too thin.
Being effective is hard. I used to tell my teams “don’t half ass two things (or 3); full ass one thing” and it was the very thing that I was guilty of. Hell, the tagline of my frickin website is ‘an overly busy fella’ and every MMO character I’ve ever made has the surname ‘Neversleep’. What does that tell you about me? I can see now, between my day job, my photography hobby, being a husband and dog father, and Paul and I doing design and renovations in our ‘spare’ time (our sekrit projects) that I was half assing a lot of stuff. Probably eigth-assing at best. We won’t even get to basic stuff that fell between the cracks tending my plants, seeing friends, or going to the gym on a regular basis. I was moving 100 things 1 inch at a time instead of 1 thing 100 inches.
I realize in life there is never perfect balance and equilibrium. Balance is yin and yang; we will veer too much in one direction and then too much in the other. There is no perfect medium/halfway point. I know the pace and scale of what we’re doing isn’t forever- and now being able to see the root of my exhaustion and realize I was approaching it almost recklessly, gives me the perspective to sit and realize that I was NOT on the best path to what I wanted and that it’s time to try something else.
Ah crap the gin is kicking in I better wrap this up.
The answer is not trying to do more. If I want to feel effective I need to narrow my focus to the things that are important to me, and those things will shift and change over time. Change is natural peeps and good, don’t fight it!
- Being kind to myself, pacing myself, and letting myself have downtime.
- Making sure I am aware of what I’m putting out into the world. I’ll probably only post to my photography instagram (@mikecookphoto) once or twice a week. It’s not my main job or focus and that’s ok.
- Making sure that I don’t ignore the people in my life just because I’m buried.
- And …being in the gym more. Eventually.
But first: dinner and more gin
Also published on Medium.