When you are excited about what you are building, doing, and learning, vacation is the furthest thing from your mind. Vacation in and of itself is a rather new concept within the framework of man’s development. I tried to find information on when the idea of a vacation became commonplace. I suspected that the whole idea of vacation is a rather recent concept.
Author Cindy Aron wrote a book published in 2009 called ‘Working at Play – the history of vacations in the United States’. Here’s a description of the book that I found to be interesting:
In Working at Play, Cindy Aron offers the first full length history of how Americans have vacationed–from eighteenth-century planters who summered in Newport to twentieth-century urban workers who headed for camps in the hills. In the early nineteenth century, vacations were taken for health more than for fun, as the wealthy traveled to watering places, seeking cures for everything from consumption to rheumatism. But starting in the 1850s, the growth of a white- collar middle class and the expansion of railroads made vacationing a mainstream activity. Aron charts this growth with grace and insight, tracing the rise of new vacation spots as the nation and the middle class blossomed. She shows how late nineteenth-century resorts became centers of competitive sports–bowling, tennis, golf, hiking, swimming, and boating absorbed the hours. But as vacationing grew, she writes, fears of the dangers of idleness grew with it. Religious camp grounds, where gambling, drinking, and bathing on Sundays were prohibited, became established resorts. At the same time ‘self improvement’ vacations began to flourish, allowing a middle class still uncomfortable with the notion of leisure to feel productive while at play. With vivid detail and much insight, Working at Play offers a lively history of the vacation, throwing new light on the place of work and rest in American culture.
I have only read excerpts from the book which was generally well regarded on Amazon at least. It’s a subject that I have thought about on several occasions when I realized that unlike the Flintstones cartoons set in the Stone Age, for almost the entirety of human history there simply was not time for vacation.
The word vacation stems from ‘vacate’ which means ‘to leave’ or a period of time that a person spends away from home, school, or business usually in order to relax or travel. Americans in particular think they are quite adept at vacationing but we know deep down that the Europeans are much better at it than we are since they seem to take the entire month of August off – a concept unthinkable in the U.S.
People take vacations from routines, to spend time with families, to visit new places, or just to relax. These are all luxuries of this modern age heretofore unavailable to the average person. Yet when I think about people that are highly engaged in things they are doing professionally, building a business, developing a concept, working toward a goal that can at times seem unreachable; I know these people are not thinking about vacation since the only thing vacation can accomplish is delaying the achievement of their goal.
To avoid living from vacation to vacation maybe it’s not a vacation we need but a new challenge?