It seemed much easier to not take that two-week vacation to Japan which is why we decided to cancel the trip about four weeks prior to our departure. Over dinner one evening, we reviewed our combined anxiety levels and all the things we have going on with the three businesses we own between the two of us. It seemed wiser to stay home and tend to the things that needed us.
I agreed, reluctantly, I’ll admit. However, the next morning, I did not go about canceling the air and lodging like I said I would.
A week later, I brought it back up for discussion. What’s the point of everything we do if we can’t also chase our dreams? This ski trip in Japan has been on our bucket list for years. Two weeks is a long time and there will never be a convenient time to do so.
But this is why we live.
Having reversed our decision didn’t change the fact we felt overwhelmed. The weeks leading up to departure meant a lot of stress and a to-do list organized in columns. At one point, I threw myself on the couch, catatonic. Patrick ordered me to “get up.” Get over here, and on this piece of paper, write down all the things that are stressing you out before we leave (omitted in the image below to spare you the details of my neuroses). On this side of the paper, the things that are stressing you out after we leave:
The stress level before you leave vs. after you leave. Somehow it all works out. You want to make sure your clients are taken care of, your dog has been handed off to the dogsitter with appropriate instructions, the house is all set, the bills are done, the emails, the notifications, the deadlines… has everything been communicated? Will the world stop turning when I leave?
I relished a 12-hour flight with no wifi. Think of all the things I’ll do and accomplish – writing and client work, and reflection…
And as I watched the West Coast disappear in my plane window so too did my concerns. Suddenly, I had no interest in all those things I could accomplish and only the desire to read fiction, watch the Japan food and travel shows (Mind of a Chef, No Reservations) we loaded on the iPad, maybe catch up on Newsroom, and talk to that guy sitting next to me – you know, my husband. And forgive myself for doing so.
The work stress was soon replaced by the uncertainty of visiting a foreign country with a language barrier and how we will fare transferring from the plane to a train and then subway with luggage and skis to find our apartment in Tokyo. (that’s the adventure part). How will we order food when we can’t read the words let alone understand the language. It’s replaced with the desire to slow time down and live very presently, take everything in and appreciate a part of the world I have never before been to.
There is so much I learned from broadening my perspective and I’ll write about that more in the coming days, because there are some wonderful lessons within.
One evening, at our hotel at the ski resort of Niseko on Hokkaido, the northernmost island of Japan, we came in from a day of skiing and put on the provided kimonos to take our daily onsen (outdoor mineral hot spring) as is the Japanese custom, and I turned to Patrick practically with tears in my eyes. “To think we almost cancelled this trip.”
I can’t imagine not experiencing the things; not taking the time to slow down; not meeting the people we met, and not having the new memories I now have. .
We returned home and nothing blew up, no one died, but most importantly, people were happy to have us back home. Which is when I realized, I think my biggest, albeit irrational fear is that I’d leave and it would be discovered my absence didn’t matter and therefore my presence brought no value. Perhaps when I returned, everyone would realize they don’t need me after all.
Instead, I returned home to leads in my inbox, and phone conversations that started with, “Today I said to so and so, ‘Guess what? Lisa comes back this week!'”
It’s much easier to stay home and keep working hard. Which is exactly why you should take the more difficult path. Go book that adventure you’ve been wanting to do. Ignore the irrational dialogue in your head.
To be continued.[ssba]