I was reading a book not too long ago called “Outliers” by Malcolm Gladwell and in one of the chapters he describes how it came to be that we have “Summer Vacation” in the academic world. In essence, he tells us, we liken ourselves to growing wheat in a field. We believe that we need a period in which our minds lie fallow like wheat fields; allowing the nutrients to return to the soil, before we plant it with new seed or new ideas. His argument about this is that our learning minds are not, in fact, like wheat fields; That when we let our minds lie fallow it means we have to re-learn what we have forgotten from lack of practice and reiteration.
I’m a big believer in practice and hard work, but I’m also a big believer in Summer Vacation. Work is all about production- producing results, producing materials, producing a product. Vacation is all about absorbtion- absorbing ones environment, absorbing a good book, absorbing the company of friends and family. To me, successful rest has nothing to do with sleeping and everything to do with absorbing new ideas and experiences without any demand to produce anything as a result. It is a bit of a selfish time, but in the very best way possible I think.
Where does creativity come from if not from our relationship with ourselves? And is it possible to be creative if we are constantly deny ourselves our creative and intellectual resources in favor of creating a product? The difference between Successful Rest and Just-Being-Lazy is that Successful Rest is actually quite active. It is the active pursuit of the interests and activities that you want to do for no other reason than because they interest you. Just-Being-Lazy is the act of not doing anything and having no reason for not doing it. A person returns to the normal world after a period of Successful Rest feeling refreshed and invigorated and ready to take on the challenges of everyday life. A Successfully Rested person is ready to begin producing again and is in a position to produce better products and better results. A person returns to the normal world after a Lazy vacation needs another vacation. They return to the world in the same state that they left it.
So here’s to Summer Vacation! Let’s not let our minds lie fallow like wheat fields, but instead fertilize them with our interests and our passions. And let’s not just sprinkle the fertilizer on top, but let’s turn over a whole new layer of ourselves so that when we do begin to plant the seeds of production again they grow faster and stronger than before.