The two figures in the kayak push away from the floating dock and commence paddling along the lake shore. Scott grins.
“When Jed and Rebecca get back,” he says, “I’m going to ask them how their marriage enrichment exercise went.”
Allow me to hit rewind to let you in on the joke.
Years previous to this recent vacation with our son and daughter-in-law, Scott and I borrowed a canoe from friends and embarked on what shall forever be known as the Great Canoeing Disaster.
If I recall correctly, I was seated in the front and Scott in the back.
We had a little trouble syncing our paddling. Scott directed me with verbal instructions, but I didn’t quite understand what he wanted.
We veered and circled and tried to get our bearings, accidentally fighting each other’s efforts. Both of us were getting frustrated.
I had gone canoeing before as a teen, but I suddenly found myself wondering if I’d ever heard Scott talk about going. Before I thought about it, the question popped out of my mouth,
“Have you ever been canoeing before?”
Icy silence from the back of the vessel. Then,
“I know what I’m doing!”
Too late, I realized my faux pax. Although I asked the question out of an innocent desire to remember correctly, it came across to Scott as though I was questioning his competence.
I pretty much stopped paddling after that.
We managed to finish up our adventure, but I wouldn’t say it was loads of fun—and we haven’t gone canoeing since.
It’s okay. I don’t count that as a failure so much as a learning experience.
We learned that maybe canoeing isn’t the best activity for us. I learned to be more aware of how my questions or comments come across. Scott learned that he doesn’t have to master full competence the first time he is exercising a new skill.
Best of all, we laugh about the whole thing now.
At the time, our frustration felt serious. We couldn’t see past the immediate problem, and we lacked the skills to communicate better and work things out.
We’re much better at it these days.
Although this story happens to be about our marriage, its moral (don’t take everything so dang seriously) doesn’t just apply to couples.
Remember the classic movie starring Bill Murray, “What About Bob?”
Under the care and advice of the infamous Dr. Leo Marvin, likable, goofy Bob decides he will “take a vacation from my problems.”
As I write these words, I’m mindful that most of us need to take the same prescription.
It’s been a weird year for everyone. Anxiety over a worldwide pandemic. Unrest in our streets. Polarizing politics.
This on top of the stuff life throws at us on a regular basis.
I hope that by the time fall arrives, you will have had a chance to enjoy a vacation—but more importantly, I hope and pray you learn the ongoing skill of taking vacations from your problems.
Take a break from over-informing yourself about COVID-19. Take some time off from worrying about the upcoming election. Give yourself a rest from the arguments on social media.
Life is serious, but we can make it harder on ourselves than it has to be.
As you navigate the waters of 2020, be sure to relax. Watch for beauty. Capture moments of joy.
Remember how some moments seemed so difficult in the past, but they bring a smile to your face now.
“A joyful heart is good medicine…” — Proverbs 17:22
Wherever you are—at home, at work, or on a trip—have a great vacation from your problems.