A Vacation From Your Head

One of the things we take along when we “go on vacation” is the content of our minds. We don’t get to leave that part of us at home, do we? And when you come right down to it, that’s what we experience – no matter where we are or what we’re doing. Is your mind often a jumble of contradictory desires? Are you constantly trying to please others while at the same time trying to satisfy an endless stream of personal urges? A break from all that is really what I mean by taking a vacation from your head. As the basic reason for this journal’s existence is cultivating and furthering an aesthetic frame of reference, I didn’t stop taking mental notes related to the topic at hand during my recent vacation. I’m back with some well-learned lessons on what it takes to be aesthetically experiencing life in the moment. Perhaps you can draw some parallels to your own needs as they relate to what it really means to take a vacation.First, there’s the vacation from work. During past vacations I’ve stayed close enough to my work to make sure I had an Internet connection available. This time, I didn’t worry about that. And as my work is all about the Internet, I was definitely not at work during this most recent vacation. That helped.Also, I was acutely aware of the desire to write about this experience as a way to touch base with how different an aesthetic state of mind can be from many of the other states of mind in which we find ourselves. The touch point I used as a measure of how in the moment I could be was the ocean. I spent hours before it with the express purpose of emptying my mind and allowing the raw sensory input of the sun, sand, and waves to replace the welter of useless thoughts that normally crop up in daily life.It turns out that was the perfect solution. I had something with which to compare my various states of mind that was immediate and always available. As I moved out from our home base – very near the beach at Cape May – and engaged in the panoply of experiences available within miles of that point, I could gauge the difference between my head when it was filled with nothing but the sound and scent of the surf and when it was bombarded by a zillion forms of sensory input on the boardwalk at Wildwood, for example. Of course the whole idea of cultivating an aesthetic state of mind is that it is eminently transportable. You can bring it with you wherever you go. That’s another goal of this journal. I’m interested in including all of human experience as available to our aesthetic comprehension and contrasting that with the other ways we’re accustomed to looking at life. And so it goes. The small lesson here is that it helps to have an aesthetic touch point – a type of experience that allows us to stand away from the ways we’re used to seeing things. Only when we’re able to distance ourselves from the many distractions that confuse us can we really experience things as they are in the moment. And this comes before developing a critical state of mind – something I’ve been discussing at length in these entries.Developing a critical state of mind is actually dependent upon being able to identify a basic starting point for one’s experience. And I find that nature in its raw magnificence does supply this for me. I take my sustenance from the sights, sounds, scents, and splendor of the natural landscape and then I work to bring that essential wholeness and calmness along with me when I move through the quotidian reality that I engage in transforming life into art and back again.*Image by TFD, 2005

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