Vacation Guilt


As a workaholic, I approach vacations like a cat needing a bath. But just like bathing, I've learned to appreciate vacations as a necessary thing. cat-hates-to-take-a-bath

At the end of my tour last year, I was burnt out. Remembering how rested and refreshed I felt after my trip to Thailand, I started looking at other travel opportunities. Shortly thereafter I found out that my cousin would be getting married in Mexico and so I knew I had found my destination.

But something weird started to happen: the closer I got to the trip, the less I talked about it on social media because it was stressing me out. I was feeling guilty for going on vacation. It felt not only frivolous to take a break, but disingenuous when I am still trying to raise funds for my documentary.

I read a passage in Amanda Palmer's book, The Art of Asking, that pretty much summed up how I was feeling. In the book, Amanda is talking to a musician friend (Sam) who has a Patreon campaign but was going on vacation with her boyfriend. She felt guilty because she didn't want anyone to think she was using the money entrusted to her to go on vacation. She didn't want to look like an asshole to her fans. The answer given in the book is too extensive to get into here, but this passage struck a chord:

I told Sam about another songwriter friend of mine, Kim Boekbinder, who runs her own direct-support website through which her fans pay her monthly... Kim had told me before that she doesn't mind charging her backers during what she calls her "staring-at-the-wall-time," which she thinks is essential before she can write a new batch of songs. Her fans don't complain; they trust her process. - Amanda Palmer, The Arts Of Asking

This need for rest, for idleness, it's something I am slowly beginning to understand is actually an integral part of the creative process. Over the past few months, as I lived my life on tour in Vancouver, I found myself busy, but uninspired. Somehow, taking a break to refuel and recharge, never occurred to me as a possible solution and yet that's exactly what happened when I returned from my trip. New and exciting ideas had started coalescing in my brain. As Tim Kreider states much better than I ever could:

Idleness is not just a vacation, an indulgence or a vice; it is as indispensable to the brain as vitamin D is to the body, and deprived of it we suffer a mental affliction as disfiguring as rickets. The space and quiet that idleness provides is a necessary condition for standing back from life and seeing it whole, for making unexpected connections and waiting for the wild summer lightning strikes of inspiration — it is, paradoxically, necessary to getting any work done. “Idle dreaming is often of the essence of what we do,” wrote Thomas Pynchon in his essay on sloth. Archimedes’ “Eureka” in the bath, Newton’s apple, Jekyll & Hyde and the benzene ring: history is full of stories of inspirations that come in idle moments and dreams. - Tim Kreider, The Busy Trap

To be fair, I also used my own money (credit card) to go on vacation, not the money associated with the project, and what I do with it is nobody's business but my own. And yet, even after seeing the tangible benefits I got from a period of rest, I still find myself feeling guilty...

Fellow artists, does this ever happen to you? How do you get over it?