This picture, taken in August 2008, sums up my idea of relaxation because it contains all of the essential elements that allow me to switch off from work and unwind. They are independent of time and place, too. These elements are plants and flowers, comfortable outside seating, clement weather, a nice view or outlook, a cup of coffee and a good book. Although I greatly enjoy being with friends and family, people are not one of the essential elements for relaxation, which is why this picture could be recreated in many places around the world. I love a busy house full of delightful people, but this should be interleaved with as much relaxation time as posisble.
A nice view or outlook could be across open countryside, the sea, an historic cityscape, or as in this case a view of water and boats in the docks. The plants and flowers could be anything from the summer tubs and pots as shown here, to mature trees, to tropical shade or desert cacti. The comfortable seating has to be upright as I'm not going to sleep, which would entirely miss the point of having everything else, so it just needs to be soft enough for a prolongued sedentary position. A cup of decent freshly ground coffee is essential, but only at those times early in the day before it metamorphoses into a glass of chilled white wine, preferably a Sauvignon Blanc, but these days I'm not really that picky. Then we have the weather. The only requirement is that I can sit outside without being chilled to the bone or wrapped up in winter clothing. This makes it extremely frustrating to be currently based in England, where the weather is at best unreliable, and at worst unbearable.
Finally, the good book. For non-fiction, a substantial glossy high quality illustrated book for browsing, and for fiction nowadays, a well stocked Kindle which makes reading outside so much more enjoyable with its anti-glare screen performing so well in bright sunlight.
All these elements I have described are simple ones and relatively low cost once located somewhere suitable. There are no yearnings for excitement and adventure, no quest for sporting prowess, and no extravagant social settings. Boring many would say. I take a different view. It is the equilibrium between mind and nature that soothes and satisfies, and leaves no regrets and sets no challenges. Contentment.
Share this article on TwitterTweet