24 January 2007

What vacations can do for you

These vacations did for me what the New Year does for many: they prompted me to rethink certain aspects of my life and to adopt certain resolutions with a clearer mind. Breaking the daily routine is a must for me; it's only then that I fully realize how much I'm entangled in it. I came back with a different view of time (personal time I mean). Time is not something to be worried about, but it is also not something to waste. Your opinion on what "wasting time" means may differ from mine. I consider it a waste of time to do only one or two things in your whole day. I consider it an awful waste to worry about waste. I've been guilty of both types of waste.

Cooking in Malargüe
Vacations are (ideally) a few days or weeks when you get to balance the objective need for some planning and scheduling with the subjective need for disorder and spontaneity. Too much planning, and you get your typical Argentine vacations in the Atlantic coast or the oversold parts of Córdoba, where people wander around feeling they're enjoying a leisure time when in fact they're walking paths already drawn by the huge machinery of touristic industry. Too much spontaneity, and you eventually find yourself in the middle of nowhere, with nothing to do, and you either go home or spend whole days sipping mate and/or playing cards.

In Mendoza I discovered (or re-discovered) both the pleasure of strenuous physical activity and my almost complete lack of physical aptitude, which I undoubtedly owe to bad genetics but also to a sedentary job and lifestyle. There's however much room for improvement, and that's one of my resolutions. I got back to my old gym on Monday, and went jogging with a couple of friends on Tuesday. I don't like the weightlifting exercises at the gym; I'm past the age when you can easily develop muscle mass, so I won't get suitably encouraging results. I don't like jogging either; I'll walk any number of blocks at a good pace, but my aerobic capacity is limited, and I hate being overtaken by the other guys and girls in the jogging course. I don't care. I hope I can keep my resolution up for at least a few months, but even that is a long-term commitment. If every day I manage to make my body perform some effort, I'll be glad.

In Mendoza I also found a cooking buddy in one of my companions, who was before just a going-out friend and a fellow roleplayer. He makes an excellent tomato sauce and had a few tips for me regarding that and other delicacies. I don't think he learned much from me in return, but at least he says the experience rekindled his cooking hobby (and his appetite — something I've personally never lacked). I was left with some ideas I'll be sure to inflict on my guests' palates soon.

Of the unpleasant interpersonal experiences I prefer not to speak. I'll only say I'm finally getting the idea that firmly saying "no" is good on certain occasions, that acknowledging my own whims and proceeding according to them is not necessarily bad and egotistical, and that I should not hesitate to sever ties that I don't need, want, or gain anything from.

And now I'm back home, at work, faced with the same problems and stress that I left behind merely two weeks ago. I wonder how long this feeling of relaxation and renewal will prevail over those things. One can cannot expect to walk on clouds indefinitely.

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