To Everything…

Dearest Rachel –

So much for the need for a wake up call. My mind is going through this past week, and as I’m lying here trying to get another hour or two of sleep, it’s coming up with a few rules for future reference. Much of it sounds a lot like the third chapter of Ecclesiastes (or, if you prefer, the various verses of “Turn, Turn, Turn”). To be sure, I haven’t followed them very well this week, but I’ve only been figuring them out just now. Perhaps, on subsequent cruises (or other travels, for that matter), I’ll have these down better, so as to make better use of my time and energy, and enjoy myself more while I can.

These will not necessarily be in any particular order, but they will be written down as they occur to me specifically. And while this may be good advice, the trick is to determine what time it is, and act accordingly. Clearly, I haven’t mastered that yet, honey, but it will likely do me well to at least keep the need for balance in mind going forward.

To everything, there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven.

A time to eat, and a time to refrain from eating. Don’t be so determined to get one’s money’s worth; stuff yourself constantly, and you’ll not only gain ridiculous amount of weight, you’ll be decidedly uncomfortable for some time to come (and let’s not talk about going swimming right thereafter)

A time to take notes, and a time to take in you surroundings. So many of our old memories (photos, video and the like) now exist without context; I don’t know what was going on at the time, without any record or explanation. At the same time, on the one tour we took, I was taking so many notes that I couldn’t necessarily keep myself in the moment. This is one of those things I’m going to have to learn how to balance in the future, because I certainly didn’t manage it this time around.

A time to wander, and a time to be in a certain place. Obviously, this can refer to our family’s custom of taking dinner in the dining room, although that didn’t exactly work out for me this time around. But this also applies to the Diamond Lounge, during what I guess they refer to as Happy Hour. These are people who share at least the interest in cruising (obviously), so there’s that topic we have in common to build on. I wish I’d have known about that a little bit sooner, so I could’ve had some more familiar faces to see throughout the week. And with that in mind…

A time to listen, and a time to speak. Most of the folks in the Diamond Lounge will, to put it charitably, make you feel young by comparison. They have the wisdom of experience – and, at best, they outnumber you conversationally two to one. Don’t go butting into conversations without knowing what they are about. One’s two cents are minimal in the best of circumstances; if they’re talking in euros (or guilders or florins), it’s completely worthless.

A time to connect online, and a time to connect with those around you. Vacation or no, there are some things that need taken care of at certain times, and that’s the beauty of the online world – you can do it from anywhere, even aboard ship these days. Similarly, no one wants to come home from a relaxing vacation to deal with hundreds if not thousands of unanswered emails; best to take care of them as they come in. At the same time, while the online world offers an infinite number of entertainment possibilities, those can be enjoyed at home. You came here to do things you couldn’t do at home; go do them. Talk to people. Be something other than who you generally are at home, for whatever reason. Put. the phone. down.

A time to push your limits, and a time to know what they are, and stop short. As I said, there are things you can do on vacation that you can’t do anywhere else – be it due to equipment, environment or inner inhibition. It’s time to take advantage of those things, and do what you couldn’t ordinarily do. Get a little crazy, if you must (and if you can). But also recognize when you can’t – and sometimes the rules do tend to restrict you, but they’re for your safety. Not everything is possible – particularly when you reach a certain age (of course, there are other things that become possible because you’re at a certain age, so there’s that).

A time for the sun, and a time for the shade. Of course, neither of us were tanning buffs, and there have been times this week when it takes but five or ten minutes for me to feel like I’m in a panini maker, but without the weight of pressure. Still, I’ve gotten comments on my fairly even tan (at least one person commended me for my judicious use of sunscreen, in fact), so whether I know what I’m doing, some people think I’m doing it right, at least. Of course, part of the reason I’m not boiled like a lobster is because I don’t stay out that long, so one kind of has to know one’s limits here as well.

A time to approach, and a time to withdraw. This is what I have always had so much trouble with, and perhaps I always will, but it’s something to keep in mind, in any event. As a general rule, I tend to be a ‘speak when spoken to’ type (which is another story for later on), which is the sort of attitude that will leave me alone for a frighteningly long time to come – ‘faint heart ne’er won fair lady,’ and all that. At the same time, there are moments when I see or hear things that I can’t keep myself from commenting on. I have to remember also that there is also a time when the world is my audience, and a time when no one is paying attention, or wanting to, and act accordingly.

And, finally, although there would probably be many more that I could add to this list – there is a time to pack, and a time to unpack, a time to fill drawers, and a time to make sure all the drawers are empty. They’re empty now, and everything is packed away. I’ve got my Zetsubou-sensei shirt on, to signify the end of a lovely retreat, because now, it’s ‘back to life, back to family,’ which, as welcome as it is in its own right, is still normal life rather than being exotic or special.

And yet, it’s something to be grateful for – if for no other reason then in comparison to that one couple I met yesterday in the 270° lounge. Everybody’s mundane is exotic to someone else, and I have to remember that as well.

At any rate, I’m sure I didn’t follow these very well at all this week, but maybe as time goes on, I’ll get a little better at each of them. Wish me luck at that, honey – I’m still going to need it.

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I am Rachel's husband. Was. I'm still trying to deal with it. I probably always will be.

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