When I went to Madison to visit my old roommate back from Israel on military leave, I was wiped out–mentally and physically. A seven game homestand ending with a rain delay pushed me to the brink of sanity. I went home a zombie, slept for three hours and hit the road at 4:30am for my second home, Madison, WI.
After the four-hour haul across the state I felt true jubilation when the Capitol building rose above the horizon. The 100+ hour work week had officially ended; I didn’t have to answer incessant questions or phones ringing off the hook, all while trying to balance a staff and make sales. I could sit back, relax and do nothing but drink pitcher after pitcher on the terrace.
First, I meet Mike and Christina for breakfast at Marigolds. Next, the Farmer’s Market followed by breakfast beers at the Great Dane Brewpub. After that, a grill out at Anthony’s house. That night, the Essen Haus for a few boots. Wake up early and eat breakfast at Mickey’s Dairy Bar, drive to Mike’s apartment, grab our bikes and bike to Olin Park for frisbee. From park to pint as we bike to Ale Asylum for a few pitchers of Bedlam. From Ale Asylum to dinner at Taqueria Guadelajara and then a rendezvous on the terrace for pitchers with friends. Wake up early for breakfast in Middleton. Then to Devil’s Lake for swimming and hiking. Grill out at Mike’s apartment. Wake up early and drive back to work.
So much for sitting back and doing nothing. But to be honest I never felt so relaxed in my life. I assumed that what I needed to bounce back at work was to catch up on sleep and just do nothing. What I found out from the whirlwind weekend in Madison is that this assumption was wrong: the physical exhaustion paled in comparison to the mental exhaustion. The relief from being with friends and in a town I love left me rejuvenated even though it was a non-stop activity filled weekend.
So what does this matter? It says happiness is not contingent on the number of hours we get to do nothing. It says that in fact the quality of our daily activities is what is important. It also says that the physical limits of the body are closely tied to our mental state: if we feel like we can’t go on, this is more a sentiment of the mind than a reality of the body. A good weekend with great friends in a special city is like a can of spinach for our mental well-being, even when our body is running on fumes.
The moral of the story–a pitcher of Bedlam is the fountain of youth.