Yes, you read that right. I’m going to write a post on what is better about staying home for the holidays! I think there are enough articles, posts, etc. about why traveling changes lives, which I often agree with — but who says there isn’t another side to the coin here?
My Facebook News Feed was full, Full, FULL of beautiful, exotic adventure photos for the past two weeks, a result of being friends with so many expats/vagabonds. I even snuck some on there myself, of a trip with Mom and Aunt K to Paris. Then, disaster struck in the form of a debilitating health issue that caused the cancellation of my second trip, which was going to be a trek around Central Europe with two friends.
Instead of traveling, I stayed home, in my bed. I watched two seasons of Mad Men, one season of Charmed, and I became an every-20-minute player of Candy Crush Saga (but I’ll never send you an invitation via FB, don’t worry). I applied for summer jobs, created a resumé in French and in English, hung out with Val friends, chatted with home friends, did some coloring, and casually translated some Latin just to see if I still could. I think I’ve been out of the house for a total of 20 minutes since last Friday (10 days?!?).
What surprises me most is that I do not feel pitiable. I did when I was in health-problem pain land, but it’s gotten better enough to not get me down. There is a culture-within-a-culture when you are an American living in France, which has as its #1 rule: Every time you have more than three days off, go somewhere new. The minute a long vacation hits, we scatter. I guarantee that I have known someone in at least 10 different countries at any given moment in the past two weeks. If I had been one of them, I would currently be writing a post about my jealousy-inducing experiences in Central Europe and uploading 50 new photos to Facebook, attracting likes and comments up the wazoo. It can make you feel like a week spent in bed is somehow lost or wasted.
Instead, I am thinking about why my week doesn’t feel like it was a waste just because I didn’t go anywhere! Here’s what I’ve come up with:
1. My body (and mind) desperately needed the rest. This could be an only-me Truth, but the Truth of the matter is that my body does not respond well to being constantly on the move, breaking diet and exercise routines and being exposed to new germs. This is especially true when I’m already sick, but I also often get more seriously sick when I’m abroad, especially if I try to push through the moments when I’m feeling slightly under the weather.
2. Total self-indulgence is restorative and fabulous.
Take it from Tom and Donna, giving yourself whatever you want when you want it is great for the soul. It is the only thing that makes being sick tolerable.
3. Being bored is sometimes more “productive.” One of the most revealing things about a person, I think, is what they do when they’re alone, if they can choose to do anything they want. Rarely in life do we even get an opportunity to explore this question, because there are always things to do that have some greater purpose. I did some of the latter things (aka my resumés), and some things that bring me lots of satisfaction that I could never do if I didn’t have nothing to do (aka coloring — I love channeling my inner child)!
4. “How we spend our days is how we spend our lives” (more detail on this here). This is one of my favorite quotes because it puts life into perspective. What our life actually consists of is the daily routines, the little moments, the choices we make about where to put our time and energy. Sometimes, that is in big adventures. More of the time, that’s in a regular, unstructured, routine day. Being forced to organize my own time helps me be satisfied with contentment and consistency, whereas traveling instills a sense of adventure and unpredictability. Both are necessary for a happy life, and spending time at home reminded me not to devalue one in favor of the other!
5. Being sedentary doesn’t mean I’m not “doing” anything. Sometimes, I am quiet, even in crowds. Sometimes I sit and stare off into space — the default perception of this behavior by others is to think my head is empty. Because if I’m not in the present, I’m not anywhere. Usually, it’s because I’m elsewhere, and my mind is full. I think a lot. And to get time to do this, in the comfort of my own home, is a privilege that I cannot appreciate enough! There is so much to process about all that’s happened here, and I felt like this week was the first opportunity I got to begin to filter through it all, without adding any adventure data to the mix. Being physically sedentary enabled me to be more mentally active. Or not, and those times were okay too.
In short, in no way do I feel like my break was “wasted time,” and I’m happy that it provided new perspective on what I’m doing here. I will have many more adventures before I leave. They will be fantastic. So I look at this two- week blip as rounding out my experience and reminding me of my lifelong, big-picture priorities…which can and should often include some Netflix and some TREATS!