A Month Long Break

 “I want to vacation so long, I forget all my passwords.” – Unknown

            If America took a month long collective vacation, how would we function?  How would we exist?  Outside of the pandemic, when have you stepped into a town or country and seen that over 50% of businesses are closed for a span of three weeks to one month.  This is the case in France, or perhaps all of Europe.  This is my first summer living in France, and I heard Paris is empty in August.  But experiencing it is a different reality.  The streets have been empty.  There is no school, it seems as if nobody has been in the office, or the grocery stores have had limited selections.  Throughout this month, in my local neighborhood market, pharmacy, and Chinese takeaway the lights are out and signs grace the front door saying “Bon Vacances.”  Good vacation.

            For us Americans, this is unfathomable.  Stores shut down for an entire month.  Automatically the questions that arise are:

Don’t they have rent to afford?

Employees to pay? 

Money that could be made on all the visiting tourists?

Aren’t they losing out?

But are the French really losing out?  They aren’t working for an entire month, instead they are taking a much needed rest as a country.  People are making memories with their children, pets, partners, friends, or even solo travel.  Rest that is needed to rejuvenate them for the next year of work.  They work to live, not live to work.  This is something that I have been slowly unlearning since I have been here.  

Who am I if I am not an employee?  Who am I when I am not in the 9-5 job?  Who am I if I am not defined by my profession?  Can I enjoy my life without equating my worth as a human to the amount of productivity I can offer an organization? 

We need enough time off to ask ourselves these questions.  Two weeks off for an entire year does not suffice. Taking an entire month off repairs you.  Imagine if that occurred as a state or nation?  How would that impact our well being?    

Explore these questions, and see what arises.

“Vacations mean a change of pace, a gentleness with ourselves, a time of rest and renewal, and a time to stretch ourselves and encounter new people, new lands, new ways, and new options.” – Anne Wilson Schaef

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