Peculiar forms of relaxation include driving in heavy traffic to overcrowded beaches on Saturday mornings, waiting in long lines at expensive amusement parks, and getting blasted at bars that serve you cheap house-brand gin when you specifically order the “best stuff.” Admit it, if not these particular forms of insane pastimes, you’ve done something similar. In my case, it used to be driving back to the Boston area from coastal Maine after a long Labor Day weekend. The backup at the toll booths, well, it wasn’t relaxing.
We frequently seem to get confused about what relaxation is. It often involves changes in venue, spending money, and frustrating rounds of “Are we there yet?” Once in a while, we do hear someone exclaim that they had a wonderfully relaxing weekend at home, doing nothing. Are they too poor to go anywhere? Did in-laws inundate them at the last moment? But mostly, we wonder if they are lying.
Periodically, newspaper and media posts appear about how we need to make our sense of relaxation anew. It is suggested that we remake our yards, patios, or homes into relaxing places. The examples all offer glossy photos of expensively appointed locales stylishly redone as resorts.
The problem is not relaxing; it’s relaxing in style or returning to family or friends and relating how wonderful the weekend was. The internal goal of relaxation has ceased to be germane and replaced by the social goal, like a viral social media post.
I celebrate the individual taking a nap in their garden, the tinkerer working in the shop, or the person attending a peaceful Yoga class. Or how about watching a sunset from the crest of a nearby hill, walking the dog, or even planning the next season’s garden?
But let’s be quiet about these things. We don’t want the influencers to find out that relaxation can be so simple or inexpensive.