By Marja. Even if we cannot go shopping, attend events or travel around, we will be still able to launch an exciting inner journey. Rather than constantly mess around, we should enjoy the moment with no external stimuli governing our actions. We can practice being present, instead of believing that the grass is greener on the other side of the fence. In this sense, staycation provides a wonderful excuse and, thus, a great opportunity to calm down, learn to know ourselves and grow as a person. Let us define staycation positively as a new synonym to the ecumenical and interreligious ‘retreat’!

I am not advocating any kind of spirituality, philosophy or psychological school of thought. Nor am I championing any specific mindfulness, meditation or yoga technique. I am not even recommending any particular hobby or recreational activity. My point reads simply: listen to your heart without outside pressures, align with your deepest core values, and do what feels right for you. It surely differs from individual to individual because people and their life situations are dissimilar.

The common denominator nevertheless requires that you should focus on those favorable things that are available right now and temporarily forget those things that are currently beyond your reach. It makes no sense to complain why you cannot visit the Ann Arbor Art Fair this year. Instead, you may start painting yourself.

This lovely season – the blossoming early summer with its long days – is helpful for our forced austerity exercise. Ann Arbor with its surroundings is a good place to live thanks to its easy access to the city nature everywhere. If one does not possess a green backyard of one’s own, one can get to a nearby park or walk along shady boulevards, admiring neighbors’ beautiful gardens. It is likewise relaxing to observe how cute squirrels are hiding cones and playing among themselves. Scientific studies confirm nature’s impact on people’s mental functioning, social relationships and even physical health. A strong connection to the natural environment enhances emotional well-being and alleviates feelings of social isolation.

Forest nature FIN

My Inner Journey

Although I primarily continue working with the same stuff as usual, a few items have become slightly more pronounced than before. They are the building blocks of my private retreat in demarcating my staycation journey:

  1. I have learned to listen to radio! I fancy podcasts, documentaries, talk shows, and audio books or plays which seem to belong to another epoch. They represent an outdated tradition that deviates from today’s mainstream entertainment. No, I would not recommend these long audio programs to the man-in-the-street since most people would regard them as heavy, boring and indigestible. It is still obvious that I am not the sole lonely wolf who is listening to them.
  2. I am educating myself even though I am not studying, reading textbooks or taking any regular classes. I am carrying out novel, unfamiliar projects while I am simultaneously gathering pertinent information for them. Webinars play a useful role in this, among other things. During the hands-on process, I am applying some sort of learning by doing method which is based on a practical bottom-up approach.
  3. I manage to be increasingly grateful. At the same time, I am less bothered or upset about uncertainties, foolish irrationality and daily discomfort.As I have not yet reached a calm stoic mindset, I will keep on disapproving contemporary youth under the motto o tempora, o mores! (Translation from Latin: Oh the times! Oh what customs!) The next chapter will explain what made me upset recently and what made me laugh.

Radio

Unpredictable Adaptation to Bans

The closing ceremony of the spring term is usually celebrated together with parents and family members who gather at school halls to enjoy an entertaining program performed by pupils, including plays, poetry readings, choral singing and dance shows. This spring is different in many countries since various health orders ban on all mass events due to coronavirus.

The Finnish TV news interviewed local schoolchildren how they feel about the cancellation of these closing ceremonies before the summer break. Most kids felt sad and disappointed, though they understood the reason for the prohibition. Yet, a ten-year-old boy was delighted and relieved about the situation. According to him, it would be annoying and strenuous to stand on a stage while playing or singing something. His amusing honesty was so typical to a young lad of his age!

High school graduates are hardest hit by the prize day ban. They also have to abstain from throwing a graduation party at home. As a consequence, inventive high school graduates or their parents published small ads on local and regional newspapers in West Finland.  A typical ad read as follows: “Our daughter/son will be awarded with a high school diploma. Due to the current restrictions, we will organize a reception later on. If you wish to deposit a gift, please transfer money to this bank account [bank account number].” It was not only the etiquette coaches that were shocked by the aggressive greed and the lack of good manners of this me-me-me-generation.

I have never seen anything similar to those ridiculous ads. In fact, I have not even heard of any ads announcing one’s graduation from school or college. However, I have noticed a shameless tendency of collecting money from guests of graduation parties. Coronavirus lockdown exposed the existing undercurrent bluntly when high school graduates discovered a new way to raise funds.

Meaningfulness

The above case leads us to the question what is the ultimate purpose of throwing a party, fundraising or sharing a special moment with friends and relatives. Is the intention to make money or memories? Meaningfulness is found in giving rather than taking. It is not all about me. Meaningfulness is something we invest energy in without expecting a return or reward, which makes it the core concept for motivation. (Source: https://www.forbes.com/sites/dennisjaffe/2018/09/14/getting-over-happiness-why-meaningfulness-is-a-better-life-purpose/#4b4b18a72407.)

Respectively, staycation may not be a fun period that makes us super happy but it may turn out to be a purposeful experience. The meaningful life is a road worth traveling (Source: https://news.stanford.edu/news/2014/january/meaningful-happy-life-010114.html).

Boat journey

The author retains ownership of all photos shown in this article.