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Refreshing the Creativity Well

Vacations are wonderful times. It’s not just that I get to hang out with my wonderful friends and family. It’s not just that together, we head out and explore new and cool parts of cities and partake of fascinating events and activities. In addition to these, I get all the time in the world to spend without expending a jot of brainpower on work.

That turns out to be surprisingly important. The routine while working settles down fairly quickly until even given the time and opportunity to head out and entertain myself, I simply don’t have the energy or will to do so. Living the drab life isn’t awful in any traditional sense–I still exercise, eat, sleep, work; strictly speaking I’m pretty high up in the hierarchy of needs–but it makes me feel more than usual like a machine. Without creativity, without the mental energy to exercise that creativity, I’m more or less going through the motions of life.

Vacations are the only time I know of in which I can refresh that well of creativity and start feeling human again. I could tell that it was working about halfway through when I started cleaning and cooking for the friends with whom I was staying. I’ve made, or had a major hand in the making of, cuisines from three continents (including General Tso’s Chicken, from scratch!), a bunch of writing, three or four toy programs (including a full implementation of Pong!), and a yet-to-be-launched website for a friend while out here. None of this, strictly, was required. All of it was a wonderful exercise in proving that I am in fact more than a machine which takes in money and churns out work.

The vacation is nearly over: I fly back tomorrow. I’ll have spent a ton of money and nearly all my accumulated leave in exchange for these 30 days in the US.

It was worth every bit.

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