If you had 4 months of vacation a year, what would you do with it? Well, I answer this question every year because I get 4 weeks off around Christmas and 3 months off in the summer.
In fact, I spend a lot of time thinking about this. I did it last night even though summer vacation is still 3 months away. I awoke at 4 a.m. and lay in bed fantasizing about a long-overdue trip to Italy. Over this morning’s coffee, I searched for flights despite not knowing if we could really go. As soon as the tax rebate arrives, I plot how much of it I can set aside for travel. The truth is, it’s very little–about enough to pay for a couple of plane tickets somewhere, but not enough for the rest of a trip. And that is not even considering the fact that I have two small children and two dogs.
When I was in my last year of college, I started a tradition of sorts. I thought of somewhere I wanted to go, and I went. I took advantage of every opportunity— I traveled a lot and studied and lived abroad. It all made me really happy. Later, when I met my husband, I traveled with him, but soon I started to work more and travel less. I never thought that one day it wouldn’t be so easy to travel the world. Now that I have two kids and little travel money, maybe I should just put off my travel hopes and be content settling in for a few years.
“I learned that a rooted life means making the kind of choices that I had avoided for the last decade.” (From a beautiful NYTimes essay by Elizabeth Eaves.)
The trouble is that no matter how hard I try to reassure myself that I should be content with our usual Brazil and California journeys, and that we will travel more when our lives stabilize a bit, I can’t kick my dreams. They visit me every day. I bug my husband with them. I write about travel and research places half-way around the world that I am oddly obsessed with. I still dream about living abroad again.
What is my problem?!
The answer may be obvious. It’s my nature. I like looking at this through Ayurveda, the ancient science of medicine and well-being from India. Everyone has a constitution, a combination of the three “doshas,” or elements: Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. People with dominant Kapha usually prefer lazy days at home taking a nap or soaking in the tub. People with dominant Pitta tend to be goal-oriented; they may love working and moving up the ladder. People with dominant Vata love change, movement, and stimulation.
The element of Vata is wind, so people like me are not very grounded; we are light, blowing here and there around this beautiful earth.
We can find aspects of ourselves in all three doshas, and one is not better than another, but one dosha dominates and gives us our nature. While I like to be successful in my work and cherish a lazy day at home, the Vata in me tugs hard.
Instead of fighting against this, I have decided to accept it. My love of travel and immersing myself in other cultures no matter where I am will not go away. If you love to spend your Sundays taking naps, don’t judge yourself against those Pittas who seem to be more productive. Don’t compare yourself to others. And don’t expect people to be like you. We are who we are.
Which way pulls you?