Mindless vacation

BY TAYLOR DASHER

I intended to start off the semester with a truly awesome column, something that would win me a Pulitzer, a Nobel Prize, and a trophy wife. But it didn’t happen. Instead I fiddle-farted my time away watching really bad movies with really hot women (see, e.g., “Catwoman”) and wrote this piece of junk a week late. At least I can say I had good intentions.

But it wasn’t simply procrastination that got the better of me. While procrastination does pounce on me like a vegan pitbull on tofu, I always manage to shake it at the last minute (when else?) unless there are other factors at work. My problem was that I wanted to savor my vacation days by keeping my mind far, far away from law school activities until the last possible second. I was aided in the pursuit of my lofty goal by returning home to the glorious rural Midwest. I know this destination doesn’t fit the common conception of a prime vacation spot. Many would gasp in horror and cry that there’s nothing to do out there. To which I would enthusiastically respond, “Exactly.”

The fact of the matter is that I love vacations because I love having nothing to do. No cases to read, no papers to write, and no showers to take. My idea of a great getaway is sitting on my duff in the middle of nowhere so I don’t have to expend precious time and energy moving my tongue to talk to people. The only humans I want around are those who can understand my grunts well enough to know when to bring me food and beer as I become one with the couch. At the start of every vacation my aim is to end up watching lousy television all day because I was sitting on the remote and was too lazy to get off my rear to fetch it. Sloth is supposedly a sin, but if idle hands are indeed the devil’s tools, I’m sending my resume to hell.

Above all, I do not want to think while I am on vacation. Hopes for job interviews with the prince of darkness aside, I will perform a little manual labor without complaint after I’ve had a week of vacation. But if any mental activity should accidentally occur, it must be strictly limited to daydreams. For example, while it was okay to ponder the creation of a cult dedicated to the worship of me after writing a killer column for last week, it was completely impermissible for me to consider whether I was going to use nouns or verbs in writing it.

I regularly need a vacation from law school, and it’s specifically my brain that needs that vacation. School involves far too much thinking. I’m supposed to think about what I read, what the professor said, and all the issues of the day. All this analysis of the abstract makes it difficult to appreciate the concrete. I don’t want to think about the arguments and counterarguments for whether a tree makes a sound if it falls in the forest and no one is around to hear it. I just want to sit and enjoy the forest and have the tree not fall on me. And that is exactly what I managed to do on my final days of break when I was actively not writing my column. The best moment of the year to date involved, not surprisingly, me just sitting on my can. I sat on the bank of a creek in the woods and watched the snow melt into the water as the sun sank beneath the horizon. That was kind of pretty. There also wasn’t a single person, building, or casebook in sight. That bordered on beautiful. And there wasn’t an articulable thought in my head. That was absolutely divine. And the tree didn’t fall on me.

Less thinking, more enjoying: I’ve decided to make that my new semester’s resolution. I’m going to do my best to shut my brain completely off at some point every weekend, and I will valiantly try to do this without the aid of alcohol. I have found that when I have too many things going on upstairs, I can’t help but to neglect to open the front door to let in fuller understandings of the really important things. Things like how unusual and wonderful it is to have a sunny February day in Cambridge, or how freakish and nice it is to see large numbers of Boston sports fans this year who aren’t insanely bitter and filled with homicidal rage toward anything bearing pinstripes.

I’m going to try to avoid thought so I can find a way to enjoy the miserable winter and keep a little bit of serenity. I’ve tried going out for a walk to get that mental calm, but it’s tough to achieve in Cambridge. I inevitably overhear undergrad pedestrians using nothing but multi-syllabic words as they argue the merits of Ulysses versus Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. While I am easily able to restrain myself from joining such intellectual frays, I’m not currently able to restrain myself from having intense nausea. Maybe if I worked at it, I could overcome that too and be able to have my little mini-vacations after all. But then technically that would involve work, and I’ll be damned if that would be a vacation at all.

But while I haven’t discovered a good way to get that little piece of peace, I’m determined to keep trying in my own lazy way. That little bit of peace will be a good way to make my vacation last a little longer. Perhaps an even better way than skipping out on writing a newspaper column.

Taylor Dasher is a 2L who is actually willing to admit he’s from the Midwest.

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