It’s a slightly uncomfortable revelation which seems to have hit us en masse this Autumn and it’s this: holidays do not make us less tired. Weird, right? But true. Everyone I spoke to within 28 hours of the sun setting on Bank Holiday Monday was saying the same thing and it was some version of knackered, exhausted, shattered, weary.
This summer more than any summer I believed that the two weeks holiday I had ruthlessly carved out (I hadn’t taken more than six days off in five years) would be the answer/the tonic/the solution/the energiser to drive me through to Christmas. Well, my Midults, it hardly drove me home from the airport. By the time I’d broken my back dragging my scruffy suitcase up the stars with a frozen shoulder, scraping the paintwork (if you can even call it that) along the way, I knew that I hadn’t been miraculously re-programmed and reinvigorated.
But there is something quite reassuring and revelatory about the idea that holidays aren’t medicine. Because it means that holidays are about something more actively joyful than rest. Rest, these days, equals stolen hours in a darkened room. But holidays are about love and laughter and flirtation and falling in friend-love and maybe sex, in fact, possibly all the appetites and new horizons and space and chat and time. Just time. That is yours.
I now realise that when I say, “I need a holiday” I am declaring my demand for a break from the drudge of the everyday. Part of the soothingness of life is the boringness and predictability of routine and many of us find a kind of weary comfort in that. But holidays are about breaking away and giving our tired hearts some nutrition. The darkened room hours will have to appease the ravenous and never-sated Tired Monster. Holidays are about something else. They’re about hope. Am I the last to realise this?