No Guilt This Vacation

April 5, 2009

Much has been said about time.

It was Ernest Hemingway who said, “Time is the least thing we have of.”

We are now living in a 24/7/365 technology driven era yet we still complain that there’s just too much work with too little time to do it.

Our frustration is only compounded by the numerous unimportant things that steal our minutes and siphon the significance out of our hours. We think of those unnecessary things that take away important moments from us, things like filling our car with gas, getting a haircut, going to the dentist, taking those power suits to the laundry and a dozen time-consuming things that have to be done to keep us from doing things that are more meaningful and fulfilling.

Famous author Chuck Swindoll says that the average American, in a lifetime, will have spent 6 months waiting at stoplights, 8 months opening junk mail (and this is going higher every year. ) A year and a half looking for lost stuff, and 5 years standing in lines of various types considering the fact that these information is of many years ago. Maybe for you and I, brown skinned folks living in this tropical paradise called the Philippines, we have spent more than one half of our lifetime inside our cars in traffic.

But all those activities which we think are taking away precious time from us because they are mundane and useless are not!

How can we live the rest of our lives without having a haircut?

How can we not wait behind stoplights? Although pedicabs and motorcyclists don’t. How can we not gas up our cars? How can we not go to the dentist? There is actually no activity that is useless and insignificant. And we can either fuss or whine about all those waiting time or we can take the time we’ve got left and spend it wisely.

Do you know that taking a vacation is time spent wisely? Let me tell you why.

There was a time when I disliked long vacations? Most driven people I know feel the same way. I would even accept speaking invitations during the Lenten Season and then deprive myself of having a quality vacation time with my family.

But there was this one year when something happened. The Ilocana (my term of endearment for my wife Lilia) exerted herself and demanded that Holy Week will be exclusively for the family. Now her rule was simple. “NO GADGETS ALLOWED ON VACATION.” I grudgingly agreed for the sake of the kids. Together with our friends, we were all booked on a private and isolated island in Palawan for 5 days. There were no cell sites, no wi-fi and the biggest shocker of them all – no electricity! The small island had a generator that supplied limited electricity and it was turned off promptly 7pm of every night. I went into withdrawal. I have never parted with my cell phone and my laptop before. I wanted to sign up with “Workaholics Anonymous” but there was none in the island.

Executive tables and laptops gave way to beautiful beaches and corals. The stars were wonderfully bright as they put on a show every night. I wake up every morning to the chirping of the birds and the soft steady sound of the waves gently touching the shore and I was recharged. The kids loved every moment of it.

This event took place many years ago. From then on, I made it a point to take a few weeks off every year and go somewhere just to be with my family. Family vacation is now a serious tradition and everybody looks forward to it. Today, my kids are no longer kids. We’ve visited many countries, shopped in endless malls, viewed many scenic spots yet every time I ask them what particular vacation they enjoyed best? Hands down, the unanimous decision will always be those 5 days of stay in this secluded island that took place many years ago. Not because of the sea and the sand, not because of the birds and the corals but because I WAS REALLY WITH THEM. I spent time with them. I gave them my undivided attention and we all had a great time together. Today looking back I realize I did not just spend time with them, I invested time with them and the investment has been profitable.

So, throw away the guilt and take a really honest to goodness vacation this summer. Invest time with the people who matter to you the most. Create memories, have fun but make sure YOU ARE REALLY WITH THEM!

This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. Fidel Demot

    Yes, spend and invest time with our loved ones! Leave and forget the gadgets.

  2. jude digao

    thanks sir. your books and articles really inspire us to do better in every aspects of our life

  3. raquel calma nakayam

    Dear Francis,

    I absolutely agree with you. Likewise, on many trips we have taken as a family, the one that stuck to our memories is the onne when we spent our 20th wedding anniversary in a resort in Palawan.Yes, while we got to do the activities we wanted, we were together as a family unit, away from the obtrusive technological gadgets of mobile phones, laptops, tv.

    I am proud to belong to an industry, the travel and tourism, that gives us many opportunities to arrange trips for families.

    Travel agents are really merchants of dreams.

    Keep up the good work of continuing to inspire all of us.

    It was great to see you again after 15 years ( at the March 24 PTAA event in

  4. BK

    Spending time with family and investing time in people we loved will definitely be a wise move. The time invested will not only be that 5 days but like compounded interest in the bank, it will continue to multiply in the lives of those who were in it together … long after the 5 days were over. This in term will serve as a reminder in the rest of their lives to remember what is most important to their lives and it will go on to affect how they are spending time with their children in the future. In the hassle of daily living, one can easily be lost in the living and occasional break like a vacation not only gets one back on the ground but also be ready for more challenges ahead.

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