Vacations and Reality

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I divide the causes of human laughter into Joy, Fun, the Joke Proper, and Flippancy. You will see the first among friends and lovers reunited on the eve of a holiday. Among adults some pretext in the way of Jokes is usually provided, but the facility with which the smallest witticisms produce laughter at such a time shows that they are not the real cause. What that real cause is we do not know. Something like it is expressed in much of that detestable art which the humans call Music, and something like it occurs in Heaven—a meaningless acceleration in the rhythm of celestial experience, quite opaque to us. Laughter of this kind does us no good and should always be discouraged. Besides, the phenomenon is of itself disgusting and a direct insult to the realism, dignity, and austerity of Hell.

Fun is closely related to Joy—a sort of emotional froth arising from the play instinct. It is very little use to us. It can sometimes be used, of course, to divert humans from something else which the Enemy would like them to be feeling or doing: but in itself it has wholly undesirable tendencies; it promotes charity, courage, contentment, and many other evils.

                                                                 CS Lewis, The Screwtape Letters

My family and I had a great time on our vacation.  Gen Con was grand as it always is, and, as the picture at the top of the post indicates, I made a new friend!  (I am the one who is not green.)

During vacations I attempt to studiously ignore the news, forget about the Law, and focus in on my family and fun.  I find that a bit difficult to do, as I always take a great deal of interest in the noteworthy events of the day, and my legal practice tends to be fairly consuming of my time during non-vacation periods.  Fortunately my family I also find fascinating, and after a day or two I am in full vacation mode and everything but my family fades into the distance for a time.

Alas, vacations always end.  When I go back to my office on Monday, I know that I will have many messages to return, and a full schedule of appointments and court appearances to deal with.  Back home with the internet, I will spend at least an hour each day getting up to speed with current events, and writing my blog posts, and my life proceeds in its familiar non-vacation manner.

It would be easy for me to think that the vacation was a temporary illusion and the way I normally spend my life the reality, but this is incorrect.  God gives us this life as an entirety and it is not for us to divide it.  Our different activities each year and each day are merely facets of the time on this planet we have as a free-will gift from our Creator.  What we do with the time, good and bad, is up to us, but no portion is less our reality than any other portion.  It is our task to enfuse everything we do with love of God and love of our neighbor.

And so, as I resume my daily activities, I will say this prayer written by Saint Thomas More, as it has always reminded me of how I should lead my life:

Good Lord,
        give me the grace so to spend my life,
        that when the day of my death shall come,
        though I may feel pain in my body,
        I may feel comfort in soul;
        and with faithful hope in thy mercy,
        in due love towards thee
        and charity towards the world,
        I may, through thy grace,
        part hence into thy glory.

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  1. Indeed we did Foxfier. A ten foot Abraham Lincoln, the obligatory hordes of Star Wars Storm Troopers, a group of drow, endless Medieval knights and ladies, a hillbilly orc, etc. One could have a fine time at Gen Con just observing the passing parade of humanity in ingenious disguises!

  2. Great pic, Don! Nice to finally put a face with the name.

    “It would be easy for me to think that the vacation was a temporary illusion and the way I normally spend my life the reality, but this is incorrect. God gives us this life as an entirety and it is not for us to divide it. Our different activities each year and each day are merely facets of the time on this planet we have as a free-will gift from our Creator. What we do with the time, good and bad, is up to us, but no portion is less our reality than any other portion. It is our task to enfuse everything we do with love of God and love of our neighbor.”

    Well said, Don.

  3. Oooh, Gen Con, I’m jealous!! My husband and I went twice when it was still in Milwaukee (pre-kids) and had an absolute blast. He’s gone once to Indy (as a judge) but I’ve never been since it moved, and we’re hoping to go again someday when the kids are older.

  4. Joanna, my wife and I began attending Gen Con in 1986 in Milwaukee and have attended each year since. (Actually my wife missed 1991, as she was heavily pregnant with our twin boys at the time and did not feel up to it.) It really is a great event for kids.

  5. My husband thought about taking my son this year until he found out how much it was to go for just a day.. is it worth the expense for someone who has never been? Or is it worth the expense because it is a tradition for your family?

  6. My family and I have always been intensively interested in games: boardgames, role playing games, computer games, so Gen Con is a natural fit for us. If someone is not so interested in games, it might not be worth the expense. My advice would be to read up about it on the internet and to look at some of the many videos about Gen Con on youtube. Our trip to Gen Con is our main vacation each year, so we allot the money for it in our annual budget.

    Here is a link to the badge costs this year for attendance at the convention:

    There was a special family of four admission for Sunday, today, of $40.00, and I would recommend that first time attendees take advantage of this to see if it is something they would be interested in.

  7. When I think of vacations, I’m reminded of the Sabbath rest. In resting, we recognize our creaturehood with all of the limitations that implies. We look to God in reliance and thank him for his goodness. We renew ourselves as we seek to go forward operating on the Creator’s resources.

  8. I find that short weekend getaways that involve traveling about 50-100 miles from home work best for us, and I find them most refreshing. This weekend, at the insistence of my daughter, we spent 1 1/2 days and 1 night in the Peoria area, where we used to live, revisiting some haunts we hadn’t seen in a while. It doesn’t bust the budget, and the amount of travel involved is just far enough to be a break from home without being so long as to be exhausting.

  9. Thanks for the explanation on who is who in the photo, Don. 😉
    I’m sure you deserved (and needed) your time away from the office with family.

    I agree with your article WRT reality, with this proviso. Even though this world is a reality, it is not the ultimate reality. This world is to pass away – so it is partial reality. Our true reality is that for which we were created – this reality is a passage and a test for the true reality.
    Enough (too much maybe) philosophising for today 🙂 God bless.

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