Our eternal longing for a vacation

What would your daily life be like if you didn’t have a vacation from it?

Photo: Colourbox
We all seem to long for holidays and vacations, but what is it that really makes us happy?

Arnt Sæther
Hønefoss, Norway

The original meaning of the word “holiday” (ferie) is: religious holidays when one did not engage in business. Today, a holiday means a day or (especially) a series of days when you are free from work, school, or studies, days in addition to your fixed days off.

But what about those who love their jobs or their current studies? Will a holiday be a torment for them, a restless hell that cannot pass quickly enough?

I don’t know if the story is true, but many years ago I heard that the world-renowned pianist Vladimir Ashkenazy practiced eight hours a day, but during holidays he increased to 10. So what would your everyday life be like if you didn’t want time off from it?

How would a completely normal Tuesday or Wednesday be like to make you not want to leave it, or so that you see that day as being completely perfect in itself? There are so many people who dream of a vacation when a working day feels long and heavy, and they want to go far, far away, or they look forward to retirement as one long vacation into eternity. Or in the middle of the week, Friday can’t come soon enough, so they can go somewhere.

But the interesting thing is that when people are dying, are brutally injured, or are told of an incurable disease, it’s not a vacation that  they want: they want everyday life. They want dinner with their family, a chat with a good colleague and friend, a cup of coffee, a shopping trip to the grocery store, to meet with their exercise or music group,  to fix some good food, to catch a glimpse of a flower or bird in the garden.

They don’t dream of having spent more time in the office, but they dream about everyday life: just one more regular day. This everyday life that far too many people want a vacation from, and actually, when the time comes, turns out to have been our life.

This article first appeared in the July 6, 2023, edition Bergens Tidende and was reprinted with the author’s permission.

This article originally appeared in the July 2024 issue of  The Norwegian American.

Arnt Sæther

Arnt Sæther

Arnt Sæther, from Hønefoss, Norway, is known as the “Happiator.” He has worked as a speaker since 1994 both nationally and internationally. He dedicates his life to being an inspiration and spreading joy. His vision is that more people experience joy and share it with others.