Saturday, August 17, 2013

Saturday, August 17, 2013


I said to a prominent business man a few weeks ago, "I suppose you'll be taking your vacation in the course of a few weeks."

To which he replied, "No fear.  I consider vacations demoralizing in the extreme, for half my staff when they've had their two weeks off take another two weeks when they get back to settle down again."

On the face of it he seemed to tell the truth and his words carried conviction.  So I remained silent.  But since then I've done a lot of thinking, and the conclusion at which I've arrived is that his remark, while true from his point of view, is really a caustic reflection upon our civilization.  For if the end of our civilization is to make of us all creatures of routine, so that like automatons we shall be satisfied to sit at one desk, on one stool, in one office, for a definite number of hours each day in the year (excluding Sunday, of course) then to ahem! (Jericho) with our civilization!

Fame, the end of one's life and the test of one's efforts, is not being the ability to sell so many yards of dress goods, collar buttons or pairs of trousers, or the ability to compute so many rows of figures, or enter a certain number of ledger accounts in a given number of hours.

If a vacation really makes one restive at buckling down again to such achievement, then let us thank God that what we call the glory of civilization has not completely broken our spirit, and that we still retain the capacity to be natural when given the chance.

Sometimes I feel that all our libraries, museums, big businesses, mammoth stores, great newspapers, churches, literary and social clubs, debating societies and reform movements, are a witness to our poverty of life and lack of genuine treasure.

The vacation spirit is really a clamoring for simplcity, which is another way of saying we desire a normal life.  It is not that we do not want to toil or that we resent drudgery, but that we wish to get away from the artificiality of modern society, to the heart of nature, to brooks and streams, to woods and forests, to violets and roses.  We want to feel the tang of the air, the spray upon our faces, the yielding of the native turf beneath our feet.  Once again we want to realize what we already know, that we belong to Nature and "God's great out-of-doors."

Someday, we shall become so efficient, and our means of production and distribution so organized, that as our Socialist friends say, "four hours a day will suffice."  Then perhaps annual vacations will disappear, and we may devote a reasonable portion to learning the real business of life. 

Horace Westwood, Sr. (born August 17, 1884)

Winnipeg Beach, where Horace Westwood Sr. and his family vacationed while Dr. Westwood served as minister of All Souls Unitarian Church in Winnipeg from 1912 until 1919.

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