The Purpose of Vacations

You go on vacation for the new [driving a golf cart, cocktails at 9:30am, renting a vespa, watching “cruise ship killers”] but what you also get is a whole series of small elations all day long. Like a rat in a puzzle, you are constantly lost, then unlost and your mini-victories (and occasional losses) remind you that you are a thinking, calculating animal.

At home, in your dear rut, you know how to do everything and where everything is. Getting coffee is not a challenge. But on vacation getting coffee can be an epic quest. How does the hotel room coffee machine work? Or do you go to the lobby? Is the lobby coffee bar open? Must you leave the hotel? Will the coffee be good? Will they make it just the way you like it?

And this is just the start of it: Can you find the tourist attraction? Can you choose a good place to have lunch? Can you find the cafe your work frenemy told you to visit, from which you must purchase a souvenir to give him? Can you make it safely to the airport? Can you find the right bus? Are you tipping correctly? This spa looks so cute, but can you trust it to do a good pedicure?

It’s not the jet skis, banana boats, parasailing and swimming with dolphins that give you exhilaration, it’s the ‘click’ when the hotel key opens your room. As you set your bag on the luggage rack and hear the door softly close, you have the delight of a grizzly bear who has found a proper cave for hibernation.

People always talk about vacations as restful, but it’s not that you sleep more, it’s that you sleep the sleep of the righteous. You have navigated the breakfast buffet without causing an international incident! You found the place you wanted to see and returned to the hotel – Alexander the Great could not have accomplished so much in one day. The vainglorious explorers of yore have nothing on you, you who managed to mail postcards!

Celebrate your achievements, Darling! You found a place that serves afternoon tea with proper scones! Exalt in your abilities! Could Jet Li or Jean Reno accomplish this? You found remembered to reapply your sunscreen! Millions would have failed at such a difficult task!

The purpose of vacations is not to see something you haven’t seen, but to remember something you already know: you are a smart, marvelous person. Now, go forth and triumph!

Richard Miller - Afternoon TeaRichard Miller, Afternoon Tea