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Imaginary Vacations

Categories: Uncategorized
Sources: Nerves And Common Sense

ONCE a young woman who had very hard work to do day after day and

who had come to where she was chronically strained and tired, turned

to her mother just as she was starting for work in the morning, and

in a voice tense with fatigue and trouble, said:--

"Mother, I cannot stand it. I cannot stand it. Unless I can get a

vacation long enough at least to catch my breath, I shall break down

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"Why don't you take a vacation today?" asked her mother. The

daughter got a little irritated and snapped out:---

"Why do you say such a foolish thing as that, Mother? You know as

well as I that I could not leave my work to-day."

"Don't be cross, dear. Stop a minute and let me tell you what I

mean. I have been thinking about it and I know you will appreciate

what I have to say, and I know you can do it. Now listen." Whereupon

the mother went on to explain quite graphically a process of

pretense--good, wholesome pretense.

To any one who has no imagination this would not or could not


To the young woman of whom I write it not only appealed heartily,

but she tried it and made it work. It was simply that she should

play that she had commenced her vacation and was going to school to

amuse herself.

As, for instance, she would say to herself, and believe it: "Isn't

it good that I can have a vacation and a rest. What shall I do to

get all I can out of it?

"I think I will go and see what they are doing in the grammar

school. Maybe when I get there it will amuse me to teach some of the

children. It is always interesting to see how children are going to

take what you say to them and to see the different ways in which

they recite their lessons."

By the time she got to school she was very much cheered. Looking up

she said to herself: "This must be the building."

She had been in it every school day for five years past, but through

the process of her little game it looked quite new and strange now.

She went in the door and when the children said "good morning," and

some of them seemed glad to see her, she said to herself: "Why, they

seem to know me; I wonder how that happens?" Occasionally she was so

much amused at her own consistency in keeping up the game that she

nearly laughed outright. She heard each class recite as if she were

teaching for the first time. She looked upon each separate child as

if she had never seen him before and he was interesting to her as a

novel study.

She found the schoolroom more cheerful and was surprised into

perceiving a pleasant sort of silent communication that started up

between her pupils and herself.

When school was over she put on her hat and coat to go home, with

the sense of having done something restful; and when she appeared to

her mother, it was with a smiling, cheerful face, which made her

mother laugh outright; and then they both laughed and went out for a

walk in the fresh air, before coming in to go to bed, and be ready

to begin again the next day.

In the morning the mother felt a little anxious and asked timidly:

"Do you believe you can make it work again today, just as well as


"Yes, indeed and better," said the daughter. "It is too much fun not

to go on with it."

After breakfast the mother with a little roguish twinkle, said:

"Well, what do you think you will do to amuse yourself to-day,


"Oh! I think--" and then they both laughed and Alice started off on

her second day's "vacation."

By the end of a week she was out of that tired rut and having a very

good time. New ideas had come to her about the school and the

children; in fact, from being dead and heavy in her work, she had

become alive.

When she found the old tired state coming on her again, she and her

mother always "took a vacation," and every time avoided the tired

rut more easily.

If one only has imagination enough, the helpfulness and restfulness

of playing "take a vacation" will tell equally well in any kind of


You can play at dressmaking--play at millinery--play at keeping

shop. You can make a game of any sort of drudgery, and do the work

better for it, as well as keep better rested and more healthy

yourself. But you must be steady and persistent and childlike in the

way you play your game.

Do not stop in the middle and exclaim, "How silly!"--and then slump

into the tired state again.

What I am telling you is nothing more nor less than a good healthy

process of self-hypnotism. Really, it is more the attitude we take

toward our work that tires us than the work itself. If we could only

learn that and realize it as a practical fact, it would save a great

deal of unnecessary suffering and even illness.

We do not need to play vacation all the time, of course. The game

might get stale then and lose its power. If we play it for two or

three days, whenever we get so tired that it seems as if we could

not bear it--play it just long enough to lift ourselves out of the

rut--then we can "go to work again" until we need another vacation.

We need not be afraid nor ashamed to bring back that childlike

tendency--it will be of very great use to our mature minds.

If we try to play the vacation game, it is wiser to say nothing

about it. It is not a game that we can be sure of sharing profitably

either to ourselves or to others.

If you find it works, and give the secret to a friend, tell her to

play it without mentioning it to you, even though she shares your

work and is sitting in the next chair to you.

Another most healthy process of resting while you work is by means

of lowering the pressure.

Suppose you were an engine, whose normal pressure was six hundred

pounds, we will say. Make yourself work at a pressure of only three

hundred pounds.

The human engine works with so much more strain than is necessary

that if a woman gets overtired and tries to lighten her work by

lightening the pressure with which she does it, she will find that

really she has only thrown off the unnecessary strain, and is not

only getting over her fatigue by working restfully, but is doing her

work better, too.

In the process of learning to use less pressure, the work may seem

to be going a little more slowly at first, but we shall find that it

will soon go faster, and better, as time establishes the better


One thing seems singular; and yet it appeals entirely to our common

sense as we think of it. There never comes a time when we cannot

learn to work more effectively at a lower pressure. We never get to

where we cannot lessen our pressure and thus increase our power.

The very interest of using less pressure adds zest to our work,

however it may have seemed like drudging before, and the possibility

of resting while we work opens to us much that is new and

refreshing, and gives us clearer understanding of how to rest more

completely while we rest.

All kinds of resting, and all kinds of working, can bring more

vitality than most of us know, until we have learned to rest and to

work without strain.