Sunday, June 10, 2012

Helium

Helium balloonsYou know what the best thing is about having time off from work? About having a holiday?

It's not that sweet, sweet moment when you first break-up from work and know that you have days and days stretching ahead of you when you don't even have to think about the office let alone go there. That moment when the holiday stretches before you like a perfumed cushion and nuzzles itself into your consciousness and yet you can't somehow quite grasp it hard enough to feel the realness of it - yes, you really are on holiday.

It's not that moment halfway through the holiday when you've released the hand-brake on your enjoyment of time and have finally allowed the days to run away with you; when you let them gather momentum and don't care because the carelessness and freedom to enjoy and waste time is part of what makes a holiday so great.

Neither is it that moment near the end of the holiday when you can count down the days on the fingers of one hand and their imminent loss finally makes you appreciate the preciousness of the sand that is slipping through your fingers minute by minute.

The best thing about a holiday is the very last day.

The very last day when it hits you that tomorrow you have to return to work. Tomorrow you have to pick up the reins again and hook them over your neck and shoulders and cinch them tight. When you have to take the bit back between your teeth, hop onto the hamster wheel and rejoin the futile, endless cycle of the rat race.

Because that's the moment when you see finally your life most clearly.

When you see the good stuff - the stuff that truly matters - thrown into sharp relief against the stuff that doesn't. When you can see how your life ought to be, how you want it to be and where it is all going wrong. Where in the scales rising above your head you see the people that are most important to you sailing past those who are plummeting down, down into the pit of your most contemptuous estimation.

Suddenly life is perfectly clear.

Complacency, routine, finding your feet, slipping back into the old ways, "it's just like I've never been away"... these are your enemies. These are the soporifics and the narcotics of existence that keep you where you probably don't want to be.

Shun them. Don't cosy back up to them. They are not your friends.

Best part of this holiday? Truly?

Not Legoland or The Space Centre or Enginuity as great as all these places were.

It was a free helium balloon from a restuarant that dashed itself about on its ribbon in the wind yesterday as we walked through Stratford-upon-Avon and had my youngest boy giggling like a maniac. I lost count of how many people that balloon smacked in the face - it was uncontrollable. But every one of them responded with a smile and a laugh and a wink.

That's what life should be like, right there.

Every day should be like that.

Every. Single. Day.


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28 comments:

Hannah Denski said...

Simple pleasures - always please the most! : )

Steve said...

Hannah: the best thing about being a young kid is enjoying the box the toy came in as much as the toy itself.

Katriina said...

Damn right, Steve.
Yesterday, my kids were begging to do some highly messy craft activity involving runny PVA glue and spaghetti broken into tiny pieces (damn you, Mister Maker!) I was just about to say no, thinking ahead about the mess and its cleanup. Then I thought, dammit, when did I get so boring and adult? I let them loose with the glue and the pasta. They had a marvellous time. Must let them (and me) do more things that are messy/fun/silly/exciting, at every possible opportunity.

Ali Clark said...

Brilliant post. It had me nodding and smiling in agreement. The trick now is to figure out how to have a life more like the one you want ... BEFORE you get back into the rat race and lose all that lovely clarity.
i.e. Do it tonight.
Good luck.
Ali.

Steve said...

Katriina: I think sometimes as we grow up we lose the ability to enjoy getting messy and that stops us doing many things which, if we tried them, we'd probably enjoy.

Ali: alas, the rat race is like a black hole that sucks you in and doesn't let go. At the moment my engine and steering is powered by bills that have to be paid... I need to find a new fuel.

Trish @ Mums Gone To... said...

A very moving post, Steve. I'm clinging fast to the final couple of years of being a little family, before my son ups and leaves. Time is so precious, make the most of it.

Steve said...

Trish: and here's me panicking about my youngest starting school for the first time in September and my eldest starting secondary school!

Gorilla Bananas said...

Every day can't be like that. Someone has to make the balloons and the helium and serve the food in the restaurants. One man's holiday is another man's drudgery. Maybe your dream will be realised when androids do all the work, but my guess is that humans will still be complaining about their lives.

Steve said...

Gorilla Bananas: good point... but I'd settle for just having equal time enjoying the balloons as making them...

Löst Jimmy said...

The key is to remain the anti-pathy of 'Back to Reality'.
Keep living old friend

Steve said...

Löst Jimmy: hear hear and thank you.

the fly in the web said...

It took me ages to get used to the idea that I could do something just because it pleased me...perfect freedom.

Steve said...

The fly in the web: and true enlightenment.

libby said...

Steve at the very least you know how to savour the special little moments in life....and at some point you will be free of the hamster wheel and the boys will be gone on to their own life...it is good to love the little now moments.

Steve said...

Libby: it's the little moments that make the hamster wheel bearable.

Marginalia said...

Nice!

About Last Weekend said...

Hoping for loads of bumping helium balloons bump in our future

Steve said...

Marginalia: ta!

About Last Weekend: a fine wish.

John Gray said...

good humour is infectious
that is its greatest power!

Steve said...

John: infectious indeed - it's the only virus worth having.

TimeWarden said...

Hope you didn't leave your children in the pub!

Steve said...

TimeWarden: sadly the landlord would only accept money.

Being Me said...

Excellent! I love seeing people get smacked in the face with balloons. Especially on the last day of freedom. Makes it all feel so much sweeter, no?

Steve said...

Being Me: it does... but sometimes I wish the balloon was made out of lead...

Being Me said...

Well, I was just going to write "smacked in the face" and leave it at that but thought you might think less of me. I should have remembered my audience.... ;-)

Steve said...

Being Me: great minds... ;-)

Lady Mondegreen's Secret Garden said...

It's true! The Best Things in Life are Free.

Steve said...

Lady Mondegreen's Secret Garden: and becoming as rare as helium...!