These imposed ‘Bank Holidays’ evoke a mixed response. The overworked and exploited amongst us may relish some time off; others may hate the lack of familiar structure and the reduction of contact with people – who are ‘off doing their own thing’ over Easter; and the self-employed, or those caring for others – whether animal or human – probably won’t even get a break. If all the Bank Holidays were added together it results in a whole week of lost revenues for employers (and the Treasury) each year – so why do we bother with Bank holidays, and just how could we (assuming we wanted to ) change this calendar malfunction and put a stop to these unnecessary ‘days-off’? I don’t know.
It is this Easter’s four days of changed structure that interests me today (as I’m self-employed and here at my laptop as usual). No postal delivery for two days; banks are closed; supermarkets and shops are also closed (which they used to be on Sundays anyway in the past); the expectation that people are not only consuming copious quantities of chocolate in the shape of eggs/chicks/rabbits, but that they also buy and consume large Easter meals – with all the trimmings (if they are able to ‘do it properly’ – which is another example of the big retailers, via magazines and television, inducing a sense of shame in everyone else who can’t afford to do so!)
The fortunate amongst us will relish time off from the sales-tills and of having more time with loved ones. For the rest it’s a mixed bag of emotions; including shame and sadness at not having a safe and loving family to be with; despair at having to endure extra time alone; or maybe delight at the opportunity for solitude and personal choice; or frustration at having to fit in with other people’s plans. For some their emotional pain will be so greatly intensified that they’ll chose to ‘get through’ the weekend by immersion in computer games, drugs and alcohol, on-line shopping, internet pornography, or anything else that alters their energy and mood, and deflects them from their awareness of being alone with themselves and of having to acknowledge their emotional and psychological pain. It’s such weekends as this that things can rise to the surface in troubled relationships and families – which may result in family violence and break-ups too.
There are two points here, for me at least, – one I’ve covered in the past about conforming to retail, and now Christian, expectations of behaviour on ‘designated’ days. The second is ……
Who are ‘you’ during the long weekend, when your usual ‘structure’ is absent?
What’s it like for you if contact with your family is based upon their expectations and your own ingrained sense of duty and compliance?
How does ‘doing what others want/need/expect you to do’ actually feel like in your gut?
When the outer circumstances of our lives are altered, even a little, we have to make an internal ‘shift’ as we attempt to restore our own, sometimes tentative, sense of inner-balance….however imbalanced that might seem to others. Such inner shifts take many forms and may have only limited affects. Instead, we have to learn how to become more robust and resilient when life imposes its inevitable changes upon us, whatever their size or form.
If we approach such imposed days off with a sense of personal purpose we can use them to our advantage; not just to chill out and recharge our energy, but to have a meaningful inner conversation with ourself and find out what it is that we really and ideally would be doing if there were no obstacles in our way such as limited finances or family obligations. It is at times like this that we can enrich our most important and powerful relationship – the one we nurture with ourself – and, stripped of the usual structure, we are free to play around with imagining, and thereby then creating, a new way of life that will make us feel like we’re taking a well-earned ‘break’ from our old, outdated and restrictive habits and conditioning.