I stayed up way too late last night thinking about this for no apparent reason other than what I thought was my nervous energy derived from that Americano that may have been too strong. Just sat there boogly eyed (is this even a word?) laying in bed thinking “man, two weeks a year, what a farce.” I tried to dive in and see what I felt and what I was suffering through but nothing but “Two weeks a year” just chimed through my head. Over and Over.
I couldn’t stop thinking.
I just stayed in bed, my mind wandering “Two weeks a year.” I could feel myself getting slightly anxious and angry at the same time.
I started to think about the two weeks a year that I could remember. I was brought back to my childhood about two weeks I could never forget. The “Two weeks a year” that our family went on a vacation.
It was those two weeks that I guess my body is yearning for. It was those two weeks that I still do to this very day nearly 36 years after my first experience of the typical two weeks 2.5 child family vacation yearn for.
These two weeks a year defined me. These two weeks a year filled my head with joy, happiness, and sorrow. Sorrow that they would only last a mere two weeks and happiness that I felt it was safe to have two weeks again in the future.
What is it about these two weeks that made them so special for me? Was it time in close quarters with my three brothers and my parents? Sure.. but those aren’t the memories that make my stomach weigh heavy with anticipation and fear.
Was it the feeling of being on the road and heading for the unknown? My heart screams yes when I put these words down to share. My stomach twists even more just thinking about it.
What is it about being on the road? The adventure? Why does it get me all riled up and excited?
I want to believe its some connection I have with nature that makes me super special and unique, but I know I’m not the only one that seeks this out. The unique traits I do have are my silly dad jokes, a nose that makes a statement and a hand problem that makes thinking about any of this (and typing this) a tizzy of frustration. (Vikings disease, certainly isn’t as cool as it sounds!)
I have vivid memories of myself admiring Choco canyon. I can put myself back on Newspaper Rock. I have visions of standing on the rim of the Grand Canyon. I can see myself in the Hermosa meadows of the San Juans and Animas River valley. I can smell the coal cinders of the trains I rode last year and twenty years ago. I can taste the salt of the sea, the warmth of the desert and crispness of the mountains. My body aches to be free and my eyes shut in anticipation of the memories to consume me.
Two weeks a year. Why only two?
What did we decide that made so much of my father’s generation, and my generation feel that the American dream, the American vacation, that road trip, that escape, that trip to the mountains we so love or the time at the beach we so desire is only there for two weeks a year?
Goddamn two weeks a year.
Are you angry yet? Are you mad? Do you even get two weeks a year?
I find myself wondering, does anyone but myself care? Am I an exception to the norm? Am I lucky just to have two weeks a year? Am I privileged?
I want to tell the world I work hard for those damned two weeks a year. I want to say I’m proud of those two weeks a year. I do my time; I get up, I go to work, I come home, I rinse and repeat. Every. Damn. Day.
Is it worth it? Sometimes it doesn’t feel like it, not for just two damn weeks a year. It is worth it for my family, my children and those who rely on me. I’d do anything for my family and my beautiful wife and daughters. Anything.
Maybe that’s the sacrifice. Maybe that’s what scares me. Maybe that’s what churns my stomach. Perhaps it isn’t the fear of working all year long for two measly weeks, but maybe its the fear of what about my children. Fear about my daughters.
Why do I have this sinking feeling I may be the end of the lineage of “Two weeks a year”?
Here we are today, living in a society with miracle after miracle. We have wonders of technology, miracles of connecting people, marvels of communications, advancements of medicine all moving us forward and giving us strength, power and extending our well being.
Today I can order groceries on my phone and have them dropped off at my house by some random stranger with an electronic key to my front door. I can get a flu shot at work during open enrollment. I can write words into this text editor that are highlighted and underlined with my terrible grammar and spelling letting me know what I need to fix as I try and not focus on them and remember what it is I’m writing about.
But today is also a day I’m concerned. It’s a day when I fear those road trips, those parks, those places, those special unique places that I dreamed of seeing for those “Two weeks a year” are in trouble. They desperately are in trouble. They’re in trouble with privatization. They’re in trouble from being underfunded, understaffed, under-maintained. They’re the target of profits. They’re the targets of those other 50 weeks a year that we all bust our asses for in hopes of having something special we can do for our selves for just two goddamned weeks.
I want these weeks. I NEED these weeks.
Don’t take my two damn weeks and close them down. Don’t take my two damn weeks and make them more expensive. Don’t take my two damn weeks and put mineral, oil and energy exploration on them. We DON’T NEED THAT. We have, within our very hands, the very technology, the very reason, the desire to give each other what we need to have jobs, to have careers and have our well being. Our parks should be there to preserve this, not be profited from in short term gains.
What we NEED are our national parks. We need our natural lands. We need our places to escape. We need the parks. We need the outdoors, and we need them to be the escape that every human being desires.
Our parks, they’re our livelihood. Whether you live in a big city, across the world our out in the country, they belong to you and me. They give us strength, escape, beauty, solitude and everything in between.
They are us; we are them. They give us two weeks; we give them 50.
They deserve our protection. Our admiration. Our memories. They are for us to protect. For us to save for our generation, my child’s generation and my grand child’s generation.
The National Parks are America’s best idea, and you know what, maybe those two damn weeks are too. Let’s fund them, let’s preserve them and let’s do whats right for humanity. Let’s make sure our kids have their two weeks a year
I’m a 40 something father of two girls who loves the mountains, still plays in the sand and enjoys being in the great outdoors. The mountains are always calling my name.
“Wilderness is a necessity” – John Muir