Sunday August 19, 2012
Much can be gained by simply doing nothing
I MUST confess that for the first time, I allowed technology to get the better of me while away on holiday.
With WiFi freely available at the resort, including even on the beach with the waves crashing on the shore, there was the temptation to get online now and then.
And so it was that in the early hours on Thursday, when the rest of the family was still in dreamland, I took out my iPad and posted on myFaceBook account, “It’s 5.30 at Port Dickson. Dawn.
“The waves sing to me as I gaze out into the open sea. Lights flicker in the distance and the sky lights up with an occasional streak of lightning.
“It will probably rain later.
“The busyness of Petaling Jaya is far away. In the stillness and solitude, I thank God for His many blessings.”
With a heartfelt reflection like that, friends immediately “liked” my status, and a friend commented, “It’s only when we are AWAY do we notice that we need to be AWAY.”
How true. I have always enjoyed my Port Dickson getaways.
Growing up on an island where the beach was never far away, PD was the ideal destination for a Penangite like me working in the Klang Valley.
One of my former employers had a bungalow in Teluk Kemang which eventually became an apartment block that was made available to staff and I made full use of it.
When the boys were still small, PD was a dream vacation spot.
As soon as we reached our destination, and before we could even unpack, they would clamour to be taken to the beach.
I recall those times when taking them for a dip in the sea under the scorching mid-day sun was quite the norm.
On our many past family trips, we could all fit comfortably into one room.
But not this time. As young adults, the boys had their own chalet and were most happy to do their own thing while my wife and I went walking along the beach in the mornings and watched the sunsets in the evenings.
But we also had lots of family time including playing Scrabble together each night, even if we were all multi-tasking at the same time.
Son No 1 was plugged into his music on his iPod, Son No 2 was chatting with his friend in Scotland on his notebook, while my wife and I were reading in between turns.
American comedy writer Robert Orben noted that “a vacation is having nothing to do and all day to do it in”.
At the resort we were at, there was plenty of activity going on – water sports, karaoke, nature walks, beach volleyball, and so on.
I guess city folks find it hard to go into “doing nothing” mode and need time to wind down gradually. But I believe learning to “do nothing” now and then is as critical for the soul as sleep is for the body.
In the rush of daily deadlines and endless meetings, it is easy to lose sight of our life’s goals.
For me, this trip was a welcome respite from the many demands of my daily schedule and I was certainly refreshed in body, mind and spirit.
On the final evening at PD, as I waited patiently on the beach for the sun to set and paint the sky shades of red and gold, an eagle soared overhead.
It was a powerful reminder of where my source of strength lies and of what truly matters in life.
Deputy executive editor Soo Ewe Jin is expecting to gain weight as he visits many open homes over the next few days. He wishes all Muslim readers Selamat Hari Raya Aidil Fitri.