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The Importance of Being Lazy

By Dave Marx, Author of PassPorter Travel Guidebooks

We just got back from a ten-day vacation. That's "vacation," as in, "all play and no work," not one of our frequent working visits to places where other people vacation. So what did I do on my summer vacation? Among other things, I read "The Importance of Being Lazy" by Al Gini. I figured, what better way to get lazy than to read about it?

Alas, I was more frustrated than satisfied by this short (162 pages) collection of essays. The author's heart is clearly in the right place. In our Type A, overworked world, we ought to learn better how to rest from our labors and refresh our minds and bodies. That is the importance of being lazy. Unfortunately, he spent most of the book proving just how much we overwork, just how tough a time we have getting real rest and relaxation, how much better people have it in other cultures and how much better we had things back in the good old days. I kept hoping for helpful quotations from famous sybarites, philosophical musings on the value of sloth, and solid tips on how to kick back and really enjoy. He didn't even quote from one of the classic proponents of "getting away from it all," Henry David Thoreau. I kept silently shouting, "tell me something I don't know!"

Along the way the author mentioned Walt Disney World and Disneyland several times-- sometimes with admiration, and sometimes as an example of how we can't manage to have relaxing vacations. As someone who makes a living helping folks plan (or over-plan) their Disney vacations, there were times that I felt just a wee bit defensive.

So, let me set the record straight!

We plan vacations so that we can actually get down to the hard work of relaxation and enjoyment. There's nothing more frustrating than to stand on the threshold of a good time and not be able to have a good time. If you get tense because you're wasting time making choices that could have been made weeks or months ago, or if you're stranded out in the cold when there's no room at the inn, there's no way you can ever relax and enjoy your precious time off.

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But no, I'm not a fan of "commando" vacations. When you try to get maximum value out of your vacation time and/or dollars by planning and cramming every waking moment with activities and getting less sleep than usual you miss the real point of any vacation. You really do need to "stop and smell the roses." It's during those seemingly empty moments that your mind and heart is free to unwind and you can rediscover yourself and those you love.

Occasionally, readers ask how they can guarantee their piece of "Disney magic." My regular response is, "The harder you chase the magic, the harder it is to find. You have to slow down, and let the magic find you." Magic (whether it's delight, relaxation, inspiration, togetherness, or what-have-you) is just what Al Gini hopes we'll find by "being lazy."

So leave a few hours in every vacation day for the unplanned. Sit on that park bench and watch the world dash by. Spend more time snuggling and less time struggling. Sleep in, or turn in early. Read the latest Harry Potter novel. And don't forget to gaze at the heavens and wish upon that star. Your vacation dreams really can come true.

This article appeared in our July 3, 2003 newsletter -- subscribe to our popular newsletter today for free!

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    Updated 04/06/07 

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