The true value of vacation

Jun. 13, 2013 @ 06:01 AM

People often ask me what I do for fun when I’m not working. That’s an easy one. When I’m not at the pitch, diamond, court or gridiron covering a game, I’m there watching one. Lest you think sports is the only driving passion in my life, however, rest assured I do have other interests, including literature, visiting with friends and exploring different expressions of Christian faith.

That’s why I combined all these interests into a recent whirlwind visit to Washington D.C. Together with Thomas Jefferson soccer Brian Espinoza, I squeezed in a Shakespeare play, a visit with some old GWU friends and managed to worship at the National Basilica on the campus of Catholic University. All these feats were accomplished before we watched the U.S. soccer team pull off one of the biggest upsets in team history against the second ranked team in the world, Germany. I need a vacation from my vacation.

And that’s a good thing. You see, vacations are meant to be far more than rest and relaxation. In fact, R&R should be the last thing on the list. Be adventurous. Try new experiences and take home a lesson from each. They are much more valuable than a snow globe or some other souvenir.

I learned many lessons during my weekend trip to the nation’s capital and they did not come from a museum or monument. They came from taking in my surroundings.

I am not saying to skip the history of D.C. if you should ever go there you need to visit the monuments memorials museums. It gives us as Americans just a small glimpse of the heroic people who built this great nation and the heroes that died to keep it that way.

A word of warning though, when you visit the Lincoln Memorial, don’t tell the tour guide that Honest Abe is from Rutherford County. It will not end well. Trust me.

Though the lessons I learned were not from normal tourist sites, they were no less important.

For example, I found out when visiting a friend I had not seen in ten years that it’s fun to tell stories and revisit the past, but that grows stale after awhile. It was much more rewarding for us to discuss our future goals and plans.

I also realized that time changes people. My friend is not the same person he was ten years ago and hopefully I’m different too. I can’t wait to see who I am ten years from now.

My experience reminded at the theatre and the Basilica offered a vivid reminder that it is what’s on the inside that counts. Even though I was wearing a GWU T-shirt and shorts while everyone else at the play had formal wear, that did not stop me from enjoying the performance.

The same principal was on display Sunday morning. I saw that just because some people within the Christian faith choose to worship in a different way than I would, doesn’t mean it’s wrong. God cares much more about the inner condition of your faith than the way in which it is expressed. That’s a lesson I’m still trying to grasp.

Finally, I saw the power of unity first hand.

At the soccer match, people game from all across the nation to support the nation.

Republicans and Democrats forgot their party’s colors for a few hours  and draped themselves, in many cases quite literally, in the red, white and blue of the United States. It was almost magical to see over 50,000 people raise their voiced with cheers or chants. And it worked.

The boisterous crowd pulled the USA through to an improbable 4-3 victory. Now if the members of congress would just take a cue from the fans who knows what we can accomplish as a nation.

So, try to keep your eyes open for similar lessons as you go on various vacations this summer. They will last long after your tan lines or photos fade.