Workaholics Hate Vacations

So, three and a half days. That’s pretty good, right? I haven’t posted for 3.5 days. It’s not that work is so great, but money is. Generally, you don’t get the latter without the former. Et voila.

Fun piece in today’s Globe and Mail about workaholics who try (not very successfully) to go on vacation and…do nothing.

The photo with this post is me this morning at breakfast. We are at Manoir Hovey, a country house hotel on a lake that we know and love from repeated visits since we first arrived, shell-shocked and weary in November 2001 after experiencing and covering 9/11. The minute we drove over the border into rural Quebec — home! — my shoulders dropped with relief.

The sweetie is beside me on the sofa reading “In Pursuit of Silence” on his Kindle and I brought a foot-high stack of magazines and a few books, David Finkel’s “The Good Soldiers” and Michael Ondaatje’s “Divisadero”. (He is a Canadian writer, best known for “The English Patient”, although “In The Skin Of A Lion” is spectacular.)

Reading for pleasure! The sweetie and I, trying to survive in journalism, remain ambitious and driven, but I wouldn’t call us workaholics. I always “forget” my cellphone charge cord so no one can reach me. I read email but may not reply. My perfect recharge is eat/sleep/shop/repeat. We may bike or go horseback riding or swim. Or not.

He golfs, reads, stares at the sky. We both take lots of photos; I got some great snaps of the garden, dew-covered, at 7:15 yesterday morning.

Work is seductive, never more so than in a recession that appears never-ending. We need incomes! We need our bosses and clients to consider us well worth our cost to them. It makes us feel needed, charged, plugged-in, useful, valued. All good.

But not at the expense of our health. Staying narrowly focused all the time is what carriage horses do. It’s hard to see much else, or listen more broadly — even to silence — if we spend every minute attentive only to our professional status and value.

Work is a false god. Yes, we need to be really good at it and, for a select few, available 24/7 — I’m thinking Obama. But we all need to carve out and protect time, space and silence to not be indispensable, except to ourselves, our partners and kids, our spirits.

In the library here, we met a great Montreal couple our age; she’s a judge and he’s a psychologist. She plays flute and he plays drums in a band. I loved that both, in serious, demanding jobs, make sure to have a life without a check attached to it. I’ve recently, after way too much struggle whether I could afford to take three hours out of a Friday morning for class, re-discovered drawing and am loving it.

Do you take, or enjoy vacations? What do you think of workaholics?

11 thoughts on “Workaholics Hate Vacations

  1. I just finished a week-long vacation to visit my parents. I work with now, and worked with brfore this team lead, workaholics. I don’t get them at all! Go home, guys! They’ll stay at work until 7 at night, after getting here at 8 in the morning, for things that would have still been here tomorrow, and just as easily done then. I love my job, I do, but I leave it at work and go home at the end of the day. I don’t mind putting in extra time if I need to, but if it’s not necessary, I’d rather be home with my family. Seriously, go home 😉

  2. Caitlin Kelly

    I could never tolerate a partner, male or female, like that. Take a stroll around Greenwich, CT and equally $$$$ towns where the skinny blond wives see their high-earning hubbies about an hour a day between long commutes and crazy hours.

    If you’re going to have a partner or kids, you need to make them your priority. No one, unless your boss is insanely insatiable (and they exist) is that necessary.

    I get more down in 5 hours (no breaks) than some people in a 10-hour days, and I bet many of us do.

  3. citifieddoug

    I used to work at a consulting firm where people showed up at 6am, chatted with their coworkers about how they were too busy to have a life until 6pm and then did work for a few more hours before going home. We sure looked like workaholics and sure didn’t get much done.

  4. Caitlin Kelly

    I am carrying around with me, on vacation, a bag that weighs about 20 lbs, all unread magazines. Work, sort of…I think self-employed people have a really tough time unplugging because it’s like a sand castle at the ocean — the minute your back is turned, all that hard work feels like it’s getting washed away.

    I know some offices are time-sucks. When I have been lucky enough to have a job with an office with a door that closed (twice) I kept it closed or almost shut all the time so I could get my work done and get the hell out. I looked unfriendly because I’m pretty obsesssive; I’m there to work and focus, not hang out.

    I hate offices or bosses that believe in face-time.

  5. Personally, the best way to get out of my own head and out of my own way, is to do something active and demanding on vacation. In recent years, I’ve hiked the Inca Trail and also trekked in Patagonia. You simply cannot work when you are hiking or repelling down waterfalls (scared shitless) away from technology, dead-tired and out in the wilderness for days and days at a time. Instead of worrying about work (pitching a new story, promoting, writing something clever), I worry about the strength of the rope bridge I have to cross, and whether or not those seemingly innocuous bug bites really are innocuous. Or even if I have enough clean socks to last me the next few days. It’s a wonderful thing.

    1. citifieddoug

      Jody, I hiked the Inca trail in ’89 or so. Isn’t the first view of Macchu Picchu from the ridge above about the most spectacular sight in the world?

      It’s funny in context, though. I first met the incipient workaholic version of me on that trail.

      1. CFDoug, you know, it’s funny, but I did that trek because I wanted to hike in the Andes and not because I had any great desire to see Macchu Picchu. But then when we got there, seeing it for the first time from that ridge, I teared up. It was completely unexpected. I’m not some person in search of spiritual enlightenment; beyond which, I don’t think spiritual fulfillment is geographical – I think that you can find spirituality wherever you are. But some how the scope and scale of Macchu Picchu, the lives of all the people who built it, the culture that was gone, and simply the sheer beauty of it, overwhelmed me. I do believe it is the most magnificent thing I’ve ever seen.

      2. citifieddoug

        That’s my memory exactly. Two days of wild orchids, mysterious ruins, supreme vistas and dramatic weather and then you reach that last ridge and feel like you’ve never seen beauty before that moment.

        CK, you listening? Jody and I are planning your next vacation.

      3. Caitlin, get that hip in shape — Nepal is next. I just started training. I can hike like a fiend at normal altitudes, but I need to ramp up my training for those heights. Plus, no coca leaves. CFD, did you suck on coca leaves the whole time on the Inca Trail?

  6. Caitlin Kelly

    Yes, yes, I’m listening! I trust you’ll pay for it, as well?

    I went to Machu Picchu with my mom right out of college — and it *is* astonishing. I was up for sunrise, watching the sun pour into valley after valley. It felt totally timeless.

    Jody, I agree. My best vacation EVER was safari for a month in Tanzania and Kenya when I was in my late 20s and recovering from a bad ankle injury. I wanted grand adventure but could still sit in the truck and get it. Right now I am such a mess with my arthritic hip I am very limited in my physical activities which is really annoying; I had hoped to go riding this week but the dr said no…

    So this afternoon I’m out soloing on the lake in a canoe. Time to whip the J-stroke back into shape.

  7. Caitlin Kelly

    No coca leaves. The hip will need replacement; not much else will fix it, unfortunately. But after that, Nepal and Tibet are definitely on my list.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s