We did another cruise, this being the planned 5-night we booked months back. Some parenting challenges aside, it was among the most relaxing days I've had in awhile. It really gave me time to think and be present.
If you know me in real life, you know that I've endured a fair amount of stress the last few months, for a lot of different reasons. I was starting to feel it physically manifest itself, which is something I've only really experienced a few times in my life (9/11 and divorce, basically). I'm not sure how to describe it, except to say that there was a feeling that my body was becoming intolerant of the stress. It wasn't my blood pressure, because I was checking it, but something just didn't feel right.
In any case, I've been able to manage it, and in the last two weeks have felt a lot better. While sitting on the beach, tropical breezes blowing between me and a big umbrella, I enjoyed some moments of presence that I've honestly not practiced much in the last few years. I'm proud of this, because I know a lot of people can't do it in the best of circumstances, let alone when they've encountered difficulty. Maybe it's a variation on mediation, but to be somewhere, and feeling your environment without the mind storm of pressures, lists and challenges distracting you... that's an amazing feeling.
You may laugh about this, but I had similar experiences when we were in New York in April. I remember walking down 42nd toward Grand Central, and despite being in this ridiculous city with all of the noise (and cold), nothing about life intruded on that experience.
Vacation can be a useful therapy like that. Sure, if your life is generally so terrible that you feel like you need to escape it, you probably need to make some significant changes. But life can still have very challenging waves that prevent you from living in the moment and gaining the perspective you need to be a smooth operator. I think part of it is that vacations grant you a personal exemption from having to provide for and prioritize others. That's generally the thing that makes you a good human being, but you do need to look out for yourself.