The past two weeks I enjoyed being me again. The ‘me’ without all the extra “fuss” that comes from living with a brain injury. Sure I always had my earplugs, hat and sunglasses with me, but I was once again able to walk through a city, sit at a sidewalk café, play card games and go on a hike with others.
Yes, I was on vacation and loved every moment of it! Not only was I surrounded by gorgeous views and really nice people, I even learned some new things about myself.
I’ve mentioned before after a previous vacation, that I’m a better version of myself whenever I’m away on vacation. Or at least that’s how it feels. One evening while philosophising about world politics and travelling with a fellow traveller, I share this notion. She suggested a slight adjustment. Rather than a better version, it’s a clearer version of yourself. It’s the ‘you’ without the distractions of everyday life, worries and obligations. The ‘you’ that you are when you live and enjoy the moment.
I really liked this adjustment. As it means that rather than a different more likeable version, you yourself are, or can always be that likeable person. Apparently it’s a matter of paying attention. To be aware when certain aspects get lost in the mire of everyday life. Therefore I’ll, once again, try to use mindfulness exercises in order to avoid losing my better sides in a couple of days again.
For me it was a real ‘Aha-moment’.
The other thing that got me thinking, was why I felt so much better on vacation.
Probably everyone, with or without a brain injury, loves going on vacation and feels much more better during vacation. Nonetheless I was astonished, about how much better I felt. On vacation I wasn’t bothered with the limitations or disabilities that I normally run into on an almost daily basis. I didn’t experience brain fog, didn’t need to sleep during the day, could handle groups of people much better and didn’t need to weigh every choice and activity. My disabilities and my daily life seem to greatly influence each other.
Which made me wonder as to why. Did I feel better because I was in a greener and more quiet environment or was it because I didn’t have to work and had no obligations?
As I do live in a city. When I look out of my window I see the apartments on the other side of the street and see (and hear) all the people driving, cycling and walking. The only green I see, is a tree outside my window and two fake green plants on my balcony.
Whereas on vacation I stayed in hostels which were surrounded by mountains, nature or lakes.
Seeing all this green stretched out in front of me, gave me a sense of calm. I could look for hours at the vastness and nature around me. Which is why I walked around with a smile on my face for two weeks. My mind was more quiet and I only had to think about today. Life was much simpler and apparently my brain really appreciated that.
Of course there were days when I just wanted to read a book instead of going on a hike, but the mental exhaustion and getting overstimulated remained absent.
I now wonder how much my urban living environment contributes to the disabilities or limitations I face as a result of my brain injury. Since I’ve never felt this relaxed and healthy as I’ve felt in this past vacation, whenever I stayed at home for my vacation. Which to me, points to an adverse effect of city life.
Although if you don’t live in a city, finding a job could be the challenge. Since I did see myself l living in a green valley in Switzerland, but I’d still have to be able to pay rent and groceries. Even if you live in a quiet green area in the Netherlands, you do still need an income. The question is, of course, whether there are any jobs in these places. If you could do those jobs and whether or not you’d like doing them and they would be challenging enough. Next up is than the true test, as to what extent you will have to face your brain injury limitations again.
Not surprisingly, I still haven’t made up my mind on this topic. Although I did start wondering as to how smart it is to live in the city. Despite all the conveniences, such as public transport and the fact that you can find almost everything in the city, it might not be such a wise decision for my brain.
This is something that I’ll think more on in the next few months.
Did you have a realization on vacation that has stayed with you? Have you moved to a quieter environment, in order to give your brain more rest? To what extent do you think that your living environment and your daily activities contribute to the limitations you experience?