They say coming home is the best part of a holiday, and it’s true. It makes you appreciate everything you took for granted before you left.
I had been looking forward to it the whole 28 hour trip back home from my holiday address in Australia: petting my cat, devouring rice cake with avocado and goat cheese for lunch, reading the newspaper, taking a walk in the neighborhood. The most common things, that suddenly seemed just as special and fantastic to me as the waterfalls, tree kangaroos and exotic salads that I got the chance to see and taste during my holiday. After the taxi cab dropped me off, everything had this special glow: the stairs in front of my house, the cat running towards me, my kitchen. Everything was exactly the same as I had left it, two weeks before, the only difference was that I saw all of it again. Because I looked.
Coming back from a holiday is coming home, they say: suddenly, you reassess everything you started to take for granted. It’s a shame this effect only lasts for a day or three. Habituation is the enemy of appreciation. With an indifferent look at things, gratitude and amazement make a run for it. It doesn’t matter whether it’s your lover, your home, your job, your health. Taking a hot bath feels extatic for a while, until you don’t feel the warm embrace of the water anymore, no matter how hot it is. Of course, you could add more water to repeat the experience, but it’s not the same (many people, by the way, add water in a metaphorical way – the next car has to be more expensive, work has to bring even more success – in an attempt to generate the same delight).
Two days after my homecoming, the glow of everything that surrounds me might not be as radiant as it was the moment I put down my luggage, but I’ve found the perfect brightening agent. It turns out that I can brighten my daily, blessed reality by releasing the discoverer in me, the one that’s always present during holidays. I take a different route to the grocery store, look in my lover’s eyes for a bit longer, put fresh flowers in my kitchen, stand still to look at the canalside houses I know so well, mix and match my old clothes into a new, surprising outfit.
I absorb, discover unexplored territory, observe the world around me, dig up deeper layers. And everything starts to shine. Because attention is the enemy of habituation.
Text: Susan Smit - Photo: Jonas Vincent