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Taking a time out
July 13, 2015
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by Ivan Raconteur

It was a strange feeling, waking up yesterday morning and realizing there was absolutely nothing I had to do all day.

There were things I wanted to do, certainly, and things I vaguely intended to do, but there was nothing specific listed at any time on my calendar. Not even a tee time at the local golf course.

Days like that are a rare treat for newspaper editors.

One of the beautiful things about the first day of vacation is that there are plenty of opportunities, but almost no obligations.

We began the day with our traditional game of Scrabble with our morning coffee.

After that, there was a certain ebb and flow of people between the three cabins occupied by our family members and friends at this resort.

A few of us went out and examined some displays at the local history center. Then, we stopped off for some Bridgeman’s ice cream cones in honor of my late mother, who was a strong believer in the importance of ice cream.

It was a cool day, so we played some cards in the large cabin, and later had a leisurely dinner and some refreshing adult beverages.

None of these events were the result of any high degree of planning, and I hardly looked at my phone all day.

This was a rare treat.

We spend so much of our time tuned in and hooked up, it is a wonderful feeling of freedom to unplug for even a short period.

Today started out much the same. My brother-in-law and one nephew drove to Duluth for a college visit, and while they were doing that, I took my sister and another nephew out for a round of mini golf.

It looks like the week is shaping up for a series of fun events and good food, all undertaken at a leisurely pace.

One of my favorite parts of our annual family vacation is catching up with friends and relatives. We see each other at different times throughout the year, but nowhere else provides an environment that is so conducive to conversation – real old-fashioned conversation.

We have talked about everything – from my aunt’s and uncle’s memories of when they were children to shared memories of the past several decades, to what is going on in our lives today. It has been a treat.

Throughout history, the sharing of stories and memories has been an important part of how different cultures were defined, and that is still true today.

Communication has changed, and we rely on text messages, e-mails, and social media for much of our information.

Despite all that, there is still nothing better for helping us understand who we are and where we came from than sitting around with members of multiple generations sharing stories.

My family has been doing this for more than three decades, and it is one of the things I most look forward to each year.

The resort is rustic, and we complain a bit about the hard beds, tiny showers, and other minor inconveniences, but this place has been part of my family’s history.

The location is not flashy. The content is far less exciting than many other vacations I have taken, and no one would call it exotic.

Nonetheless, having one week out of the year that we can slow things down and do as much or as little as we want is a precious gift.

Some people would find this kind of vacation boring. Maybe it is, but it seems to me it is important to take a break now and then to reflect on what is really important in our life.

There will be plenty of time for chasing deadlines, wading through mountains of e-mail, and sitting in meetings when I get back to the office next week.

For now, I’m much happier hearing the laughter of friends and the call of a loon echoing across a northern Minnesota lake, rather than listening to the constant ringing of phones and the bustle of everyday life.

Taking a time out now and then is good for all of us.


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