… on vacation.

“Do rivers ever take a holiday?” — JJ Mahoney

Well, Mahoney dear,

This IS a science-based blog 🙂  so we’ll begin our inquiry with a definition of terms.

Vacation (full definition) — You go to an appealing location and rest a bit. Then play until you want to rest again.  Then rest until you want to play… in an infinite loop of bliss until the plane takes you back home to work.

Vacation (shorter definition) — You take a break from work.

BUT.  In the glorious and freeing world of physics, there’s no difference between work and play:

Work (official physics definition) —  You move something somewhere.*  This includes not just carrying your laundry up the stairs, but also dancing yourself around the kitchen or shifting your thoughts out of a well-worn rut.

So play IS work.  This doesn’t mean “ugh, there’s no escape from work.”  It means Yay!  Every fun activity that calls to you – do it.  It truly counts as your work.

Then what’s the opposite of work?

Not-work (logical definition) — When you don’t do nothin’ nowhere.

Not-work (shorter definition) —  Rest.

Not-work (cosmic definition) — wei wu wei or “doing not-doing”

Stephen Mitchell, in his translation of Lao Tzu’s Tao Te Ching (HarperPerennial, 1988), says wei wu wei “has been seen as passivity.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  A good athlete can enter a state of body-awareness in which the right stroke or the right movement happens by itself, effortlessly, without any interference of conscious will.  This is a paradigm for non-action:  the purest and most effective form of action.  The game plays the game; the poem writes the poem; we can’t tell the dancer from the dance. ‘Less and less do you need to force things, until finally you arrive at non-action.’”

So the play-fullest play IS rest.  AND work.  This makes all of life… a vacation.

For the sake of science and your insatiable need to know, dear reader, I propose to spend the next week testing this hypothesis with some wild rivers.  The problem is that our Wyoming rivers are all frozen.  I am dedicated though, so I am taking myself off to a tropical isle to see what I can do!

While I’m gone, I invite all of my readers to join me, wherever you may be, in testing this  hypothesis.  Send me a note with your results — which part of your work feels like play? Does any of your play feel like work?  And what about rest??  I look forward to hearing your adventures.  Til then, keep on doing that not-doing.

Betsy “Yohoney”

PS — Computer time’s likely to be minimal in paradise, but I will post a bit of river candy now and then!

* for TheWorseMother.com, who is not only tied with hyperboleandahalf.com for blogger- that-most-enhances-my-life but also VERY GOOD AT MATH, here’s the equation:



W = What else but work.

F = For sure not the same thing as the F in her AF**GO University (!) but just the force that moves something.

d = distance.

1 thought on “… on vacation.

  1. Kirsten Marion

    Betsy, you just keep getting better and better. Here’s hoping that you’re happily restoring your flow :-). I really look forward to seeing what comes next.


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