Herald Journal Columns
Feb. 6, 2006, Herald Journal

Those darn Bermuda vacations

By LIZ HELLMANN

Time is a slippery little sucker. One moment it’s 5:01 p.m. Friday, the next moment your ears are buzzing with the 6:30 a.m. Monday morning wake-up call.

On that cheerful note, it’s funny how 15 minutes can seem like an eternity when standing in line at the Department of Motor Vehicles, and like a mere flash in the pan when a deadline looms before you.

Unhappy tasks aside, good times are also subject to the cruel inner workings of the time gods.

Vacations seem to whiz by in a blur, almost as if they never occurred.

I can barely remember my trip to Bermuda last fall. One moment I was walking on warm sandy beaches, listening to the exotic birds (which would just be birds there), and gazing across the seemingly endless clear water.

The next moment, I was back at my desk, typing another story.

Dang it! Who moved the mouse?

You see, the reason my Bermuda vacation seemed so short was because I didn’t have one, or a vacation of any kind this fall (short of Turkey Day), or this summer, or winter. But who’s keeping track?

In my quest to escape the cold Minnesota wind, I set my screen saver to lovely beach scenes.

Therefore, when my hands get tired of typing and I’m daydreaming, er, incubating (a term writers use for the time when you aren’t doing anything, but thoughts are supposed to be magically percolating in your brain, producing the creative spark for your next masterpiece), my screen saver becomes a sanity saver.

In moments, I am staring at powdery beaches, tropical fish, and empty lawn chairs, just waiting for me and a nice cool drink.

But, as soon as the mouse is disturbed, the beaches are gone, and it’s me and my IMac.

Some might find these delusions unproductive and disturbing.

But I assure you that my welfare officer and therapist think nothing of the sort.

In fact, daydreams can be our motivators; and time, our master.

I’m sure we’ve all felt like a slave to time, but that notion may be more grounded than we think.

After all, how is it we find time to take a vacation?

Don’t pull a muscle, it’s not a trick question, boys and girls.

The answer is, we use our vacation time. Well, duh. But how do we get our vacation time? We earn it, in most cases.

So, by slaving away for a year or two, an employee will earn free time, which he or she can use to go somewhere, or simply not go anywhere, including work.

Depending on the company, it’s usually a week or two, at first.

So, by paying our dues to time, we receive our rewards. But, like all things, there is always a catch.

Just like weekends fly past in the blink of an eye, vacations fade into the distance almost as quickly as my screen saver switches off.

Yes, time is a cruel mistress. (I know, I said there were time gods before, but gods would show more justice than that.)

As for the daydreaming, I think it’s in cahoots with time.

If you are daydreaming, time just seems to get away from you. And you hardly ever daydream when you have time to.

It always seems as if such an urge strikes at the most inopportune time.

When you are writing against the deadline, when you are computing your taxes and accidentally slip in another zero on the refund line, or when your boss is outlining a new policy and asks you to sum up the major points.

But daydreaming can be useful. Daydreaming lets you take your mind off something that is taxing you.

It gives you time to de-stress a little bit.

And as the country song goes, it answers the question, “Is there life out there?”

Dreaming of beaches, for example, reminds you that there are such things in the world. Even in a world where the sun doesn’t shine for almost a month straight.

Therefore, you can use the dynamic duo, time and daydreaming, to your advantage.

A little daydreaming can remind you that if you work hard and put your time in, you will eventually be rewarded with time to fulfill your daydream, i.e., a vacation.

A word of warning, before you go off daydreaming about snorkeling in Fiji and climbing the Alps: some daydreams are more budget- and reality- friendly than others. And it might be best for your heart to stick to those.

But, there is no way to completely win out. For vacation time, no matter how hard earned, will inevitably slip away.

On the flip side, if time is always seeming to “get away from you,” maybe that just means you enjoy your life so much, it is like you are on vacation all the time.

Hey, it was worth a try.

So go ahead, relax for a moment.

Close your eyes. OK, scratch that.

Relax your legs, relax your arms, relax your jaw.

Take three deep breaths, counting to four as your breathe in, and to four as your breathe out.

1. . .2. . .3. . .4.

1. . .2. . .3. . .4.

1. . .2. . .3. . .4.

Now, picture your dream location. A field filled with wildflowers, a placid lake in the middle of the mountains, a flowing waterfall in Jamaica, a long, white, sandy beach in the Caribbean.

Picture yourself strolling along, or laying on a blanket in the scene of your choice.

Ahh, complete tranquility.

Beep! Beep! Beep!

It’s Monday morning, time to get up.

If I can’t beat time with my lousy screen saver, I’m taking you down with me.


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