Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Sweet Sweat

Normally I don't like being sticky, hot and dripping. (Wow! That sounds like a gloriously sticky sweet roll right out of the oven...) However, my first thought was that typical humid Michigan summers have their downsides. Doing any kind of outdoor work in mid-summer results in a clothes-soaking, dust-and-dirt-sticking, disheveled appearance.

I recently found myself in this state just as a storm hit and took out the electricity for seven hours. That meant that for the rest of the day I was waiting, hoping, trusting that the power would return so that I could shower and relieve myself of the grime and itchy film of filth all over my body. It was not to be. The power stayed off and the time approached when I was really going to have to do something to get cleaned up. I had a dinner engagement that I didn't want to miss. Fortune was on my side. A unexpected visit from a friend on the other side of town, the side with electricity, provided me with the answer. I packed up a change of clothes and went to her house and was cleaned up with time to spare.

One of the greatest pleasures in life is warm, clean water flowing over a tired, muddy body. You can be exhausted, sure that you have no strength left for anything. But the refreshment of that water rejuvenates and energizes and relaxes. You come out of that bath feeling like a human being again. I'm tempted to get distracted with all the baptismal symbols here, but I don't want to go there just now. The main thing I want to say is that hard work--getting sweaty, dirty and worn out--has rewards. You can see the product of your labors and look forward to the blissful shower to come. That is the sweetness of getting sweaty.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Roaming Home

Travel is stimulating. We anticipate it with enthusiasm and reminisce our wanderings with longing to return. While roaming the country or traveling abroad, we admire what we may never see again and indulge in pleasures because they are distant from home and attractive because unfamiliar.

When roughing it, what would be a major nuisance at home becomes a rustic adventure. When taking in the city high life, the deafening hustle-bustle and stench of transportation fumes becomes the life pulse of sophistication and culture.

I heard a lecture in college about vacations. It was a natural resources class intended to help students understand how to design and enhance a national park for maximum vacation satisfaction. I've never forgotten several points. They explained how emotions impact vacation. Anticipation rises as the departure time nears. Pleasure has an early peak right after beginning a trip and then settles into a contented plateau. When nearing the destination excitement begins to rise again. The point of the lecture was learning how to design a facility or park to keep the excitement level at high enough peaks and plateaus that the visitor leaves feeling successful about the experience.

What I don't remember about it is when the allure of home kicks in. When does that desire peak and plateau? Can you quantify the longing and relief when home comes in sight?

I love vacations. I anticipate them, get immersed in them, and hope for them to last. But once I'm packed to leave, heading for the turf I know best, I'm also glad to be roaming home.