Friday, August 20, 2010


I'm back from my trip to Hawaii (specifically, Kauai). It  was an amazing trip, the first half of which consisted of a hike along the Kalalau Trail to the Na Pali Coast. Before I set out, I established a rule for myself such that I would allow my brain to wander and think on any topic freely and without effort; in this way I hoped to allow my thoughts to constantly cycle in both my conscious and unconscious and eventually settle into some logical structure. Immediately prior to the hike I had been focusing entirely upon my candidacy exam for the better part of two months and had been having difficulties in processing any new information. Vacations are a great time to let things settle in one's brain and make room for more knowledge.

So why talk about any of this? I did at least come to one philosophical realization that I think is worth mentioning. I have for a long time felt that the feeling of complete and total relaxation that accompanies camping after a long day of backpacking is made possible by the extreme effort that a backpacker puts into a hike. In other words, to truly relax one must really work hard. On this particular hike, I realized that there is a reciprocal relationship here: to do quality work, one must really relax. Like I said above, if one's thoughts aren't allowed to settle, then one can't really make the best of his or her time spent working.