A Short Break

This past week I took three days off from work. During this time, I went with my Grandparents to their farm in Western New York. Their farm is important to me because I spent a lot of time there during the summer as a child. 

Generally speaking, there are two types of vacations: 1) those where you do lots of activities, don’t get much sleep, and have a lot of new experiences and 2) those where you relax. This was the latter. My Grandparent’s farm is surrounded by Amish on almost all sides, has no TV, cell service, or computer, and gets no newspaper. This is a welcomed change from the hecticness of daily life.

It had been a while since I had a vacation. This was my first since joining my current firm in CT, and the first break I have had in a few years. Last summer I was studying for the CFP® examination and the summer before I was studying for the Series 65 examination. As a result, I was greatly looking forward to having a short break where I didn’t have something hanging over my head.

My days at the farm consisted mostly of the following: I would wake around 5:30am. After getting dressed, I would take a book to the back porch overlooking the fields and woods and read for about 60 minutes. The farm is located in a valley of sorts, and as I sat there reading I could hear roosters crowing from the neighboring farms. Around 6:30am my Grandma would bring out coffee and join me. I would go back to reading until my Grandpa was awake. At this point, my Grandma would make a second round of coffee, the first for my Grandpa, and he would join me on the porch while she went in to prepare breakfast. After breakfast, the rest of the day consisted of completing any farm work needing to be done, further reading, and napping. One night we had a campfire in the evening which was nice. Overall, it was very relaxing.

I could have done anything during my three days off from work, but it was important to me to go to my Grandparent’s farm. Aside from the personal reasons, I went to the farm because it offers a change from my usual day-to-day. According to Tim Ferriss, “alternating periods of activity and rest is necessary to survive, let alone thrive. Capacity, interest, and mental endurance all wax and wane. Plan accordingly.” When I was in school, I would always enjoy going from the classroom with notes, computers, calculators, cell phones, and lecture halls to my Grandparent’s farm with trees, animals, campfires, tractors, and barns. As Anatole France said, “Man is so made that he can only find relaxation from one kind of labor by taking up another.” This is even more applicable for me now. It is refreshing to go from mental work to physical work. I spend a lot of time with meetings, emails, and computers. Having a few days without all that is the exact change I occasionally need. However, it is not enough to simply turn off the cell phone and television. For me, the farm offers more than that. In Walden, Henry David Thoreau writes “I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.” Spending time closer to the outdoors, and being fairly isolated with no computer, cell phone, or television is therapeutic for me. While I am glad to get back into my work routine, I do greatly value these occasional trips to my Grandparent’s farm.