Enjoying a vacation is something that right off the bat sounds good. Whether to do many things or to stop doing them, it is a horizon that, as it gets closer, gives rise to different imaginaries, each one with its own idiosyncrasies. For those of us who like to settle somewhere and look for a different routine, but still a routine, the idea of a vacation is projected mainly as the period in which time becomes more flexible, the contours of schedules blur and the rhythms are confused. The toils of the world of work are placed in parentheses, following the phenomenological praxis of Edmund Husserl, and with this the steps of day-to-day life are gradually softened and spaced out. The daily agenda is deconstructed and gradually the increasingly slow cadence of a vacation routine that finds its natural habitat in simplicity takes center stage. In the first two or three days the echo of that voice that orders the hours of the day to be ordered is still heard: now this, then that, and for the night that other. But from there the sequence of time moves towards dispersion. As happens with the waves of the sea, which I can only follow the current in two or three comings and goings, the days, with their respective dates, begin to overlap and merge into a kind of totality of foamy contours.
It is possible that those of us who like this type of low-hustle vacation have proclaimed somewhere a few weeks before: “When the holidays come around, I won’t do anything.” A declaration of intent that just by being manifested in some way already commits us. In such a way that when the holidays arrive, in its first bars we try not to do anything, and also to do it while being fully aware of it. An obvious oxymoron, of course, because we are always thinking and doing something. Our hearts are restless, it is often remembered from philosophy. But the longing for a dolce far niente serves to express the will to concentrate our efforts on stopping feeling demanded and counterprogramming the acceleration and tension.
One of the ways to try to change the pace is usually to indulge in long hours of reading, which, by the way, sometimes ends up delivering us, in turn, to the arms of Morpheus. Something that can be very spontaneous and that does not have to say anything about the book in hand, since one of the various pleasures of summer reading (and not only summer) occurs when the book finally falls from those hands that they hold, while the eyelids also give in little by little to the light sleep that has been courting them.
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Some of us try to read on vacation the books that we have had to put off throughout the year. For whatever reason, on the bookshelf reserved for holiday books there are always titles to read, which is why aiming to lighten it up is usually one of the most common purposes in the months of August. In my case, for a few weeks now I have been rereading fragments written by Soren Kierkegaard, the 19th century Danish thinker who can be considered the first existentialist, in a disorderly way. So for these holidays I have proposed, among other objectives, to finish Clare Carlisle’s biography of this philosopher, which has the subtitle “The restless life of Soren Kierkegaard”.
But how?, it will be said, Kierkegaard? At 30 degrees in the shade? Aside from sounding pretentious, isn’t that just the opposite of the idea of slowing down the rhythms of the inner world?
I also told myself that. Kierkegaard’s are texts that always have an impact on the psychic, and if they transmit anything, it is that freedom implies deciding, and that deciding always implies giving up. Knowing what to renounce, what one does not want to do and, above all and most difficult, what one wants, is the incessant personal and non-transferable dialectic to which we are forced time and time again. And on vacation you feel like anything but being overwhelmed.
But the thing is, life doesn’t take vacations. At the same time that one gets used to the new rhythm, a breeze of self-awareness may break through. For no apparent reason or cause. An event that makes an appearance as if to remind us that living also means wondering about life and how it is being lived. Regardless of the date on the calendar. It is usually another characteristic of the holidays that after the dolce far niente at some point the desire to return to the usual routine appears, as if having the time was fine, but only for a few days. As if what mattered was changing routines, or rather running away from them when they become too established and their novelty no longer absorbs us.
Maybe learning to live happens by knowing how to dialogue with that flow of vital questioning. Above all, because an answer is followed by another question, deeper and more magmatic. Who knows. In any case, the radical nature of this opening manifests itself more intensely the less things are thrown at it, the more the environment quietens and the internal forum takes center stage. Not in vain, in the sense and in the word vacations the idea of vacancy, of emptiness is included, and we already know that in our cultural context everything that has to do with emptiness instills, right off the bat, respect.
Yes, it’s true, all of this may sound quite existential, especially for these holidays. But it is no less true that in one way or another we are always locating ourselves in the world and wondering about those paths that can add meaning and fullness to the life project that we have in hand. This is also part of everyday life, both on weekdays and on holidays.
It may sound very existential, certainly, but I sense that there is nothing better than taking a vacation to verify it.
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