Take some time off to recharge, refocus

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Take some time off to recharge, refocus

This summer has been especially hot, and many around me are pessimists who have totally given up on vacation. They argue, “Once you leave home, you will suffer. So, it’s much better to stay in an air-conditioned office and spend the long, hot summer indoors.”

Those who have returned from their vacation seem to be divided into two groups: vacation lovers who say that summer is no fun without a timely getaway, and nihilists who are merely trying to please their families through the ritual of taking a vacation, although they are very skeptical of the meaning it brings to their lives.

Of course, I understand how they feel. They have to deal with extreme traffic, and once they get to their destination, they have to swim with a crowd in the sea - as if it were in the sacred Ganges River. The “vacation ritual” can easily exhaust vacationers, rather than boost their energy.

However, as the Buddhist scripture Dhammapada teaches, the water a cow laps turns into milk, and the water a snake licks changes into poison. In fact, vacations and trips have changed the lives of many people. Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, who acquired the Washington Post for $250 million earlier this month, is one of them.

He was working as an expert in computer science and investment on Wall Street, but when he took a cross-county road trip from New York to Seattle in 1994, he came up with the idea of online trade. He built the business concept to create Amazon, which revolutionized the way goods are bought and sold online. According to Forbes, Bezos’ net worth is $25.2 billion as of March 2013.

A friend of mine had a different kind of epiphany. A few days ago, a friend of mine who immigrated to the United States more than 10 years ago called me. I was worried about him because of his recent family troubles. This time, however, he said that he and his wife have reconciled.

Again, the crucial turning point was their cross-country trip. During the vacation, the couple had in-depth conversations, looked back on their mistakes and asked each other for forgiveness. By the time they returned home, they were holding hands.

Needless to say, vacations and trips often leave us with surprising souvenirs. A joke I saw on a social network site read, “Vacation is short but leaves a long impression,” has a new meaning now.

It is well-known that Microsoft founder Bill Gates takes a “Think Week” twice a year. Gates brings minimal personal belongings to go on a genuine retreat and spends his time pondering. The time to recharge and refocus on thinking has made him who he is today. If you are one of those who is reluctant to take a vacation for any reason, just leave now.

The author is an editorial writer of the JoongAng Ilbo.

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