Greetings from Wellfleet, on Cape Cod. It’s a Sunday, the weather is generously beautiful, and I’m here for a week with my wife, Sue, and various relatives and guests to teach the course I’ve been teaching for how many summers now, is it 15?, to finish up the new book about ADHD John and I have been working on for quite a while, and to have fun.
This is as close as I get to what most people think of as a vacation. The fact is, I don’t take vacations. Sue goes away with girlfriends with some regularity for weekends or longer periods, and then we have two weeks, one our summer camp in Michigan in July, and one this course on Cape Cod in August, when Sue gets to read on the beach (her passion) and rest up (she works harder than anyone I know).
Why I Don’t Take Vacations
The reason I don’t take conventional vacations is that, for me, every day I’m doing what I love best. I love my three jobs. I see patients, I write books and I give seminars and talks. Each one of those is a passion for me. You might think I really ought to get away and go fishing. Of course, I have many good friends who fish, and I love their stories about fishing, but the times I’ve tried it, I get bored pretty quickly. Plus I have so little talent for it that I just get in the way or bring bad luck.
I do love golf, but that’s only because I play it with my sons, Tucker and Jack. Whenever I can, I love getting out on the course with them, which is not very often, due to the schedules the three of us keep. But when we can, we get out and ruin a good walk, as Mark Twain put it.
Doing What You Love
I once wrote about this in my newsletter and someone I respect a lot took me to task, telling me I should not model over-working. I do not mean to do that. What I mean to model is doing what you love. I love what I do. I’ve discovered the three things in life I’m good at, good enough so that people will pay me to do them: see patients, write books, and give talks. So that’s what I do with my time, most of the time.
Sue loves to travel, and someday, if we can afford it, I’ve promised her we will travel to wherever she’d like to go. I will bring my laptop so I can work on a book. That’s the great thing about being a writer; all you need is your laptop and your imagination. I just have to pray my mind holds up.
My wish for all of you is to do what you love as much as you can. If people will pay you do what you love, then you’re lucky. Or if you don’t need money, then you’re very lucky. I still need money, as most of us do. But I have my three talents that God gave me, which I have worked hard to develop as I’ve grown older.
In December I will turn 70. Sue and our 3 wonderful kids, the stars in my sky, want to take me away to Aruba, an island I used to love to go to before I even met Sue, and an island I vacationed with—yes I took conventional vacations way back when—Sue on before we got married, to celebrate my 70th. birthday.
Just their wanting to do it is plenty of present for me. Believe me, to have reached 70 years—assuming I do get to December 2 intact—with Sue and those 3 kids with me will be, for me, to have reached the tipmost top of Mount Olympus.
So, as I think about it, I suppose what I’ve really been doing all these days when I’ve supposedly been seeing patients, writing books, and giving talks is doing whatever it is a person does to make sure a marriage burns bright as a bonfire for 30 years, and three children, one glorious girl and two fantabulous boys, grow into all that they ever wanted to be, still counting, still growing.
Whatever it is a person does to do that, that’s what I’ve been doing instead of taking vacations or doing whatever else I might have done. Because that’s what’s mainly been on my mind.
I can’t end without thanking whoever you thank for all the help I needed and got every day along the way.
Dr. Hallowell shares his thoughts on A Celebration of Life in his blog post.