I could really use a break.

I don’t want to sleep or rest. I just want to do something that stimulates my imagination and restores my equilibrium. Something unrelated to the objectives of career advancement, feeding a small business, sustaining the financial stability of my household or the weekly grind of assignments. I want to burrow into an engrossing book about American history. I want to work out the guitar solo of Ry Cooder’s version of “Dark End of the Street.” I want to go to a concert purely for enjoyment and leave my notebook and camera at home. I want to take my little girl to that sprayground grand opening at Barber Park on Saturday. I want to go to the beach with my family.

I’d like to do something creative with my yard, but the enterprise and the material — terraces, steps and pathways fashioned out of limestone collected from Kentucky creeks — are not really practical in an urban North Carolina setting.

I’d like to go for a run like the kind I did in the spring of 2008, when I just took off at an easy pace and pushed myself to go further than I had the time before, to venture into new neighborhoods and commercial districts. Which was really just a way to relive a time when I was a kid and my aunt and uncle’s VW bus broke down in West Virginia. We stayed at a motel for about a week while the bus was being repaired, and every evening one of the adults would walk with me on a logging road that went up the mountain where there were blackberries, each time venturing a little further than the last.

I thought about all this when my wife dropped off some pho at the office for my lunch. When she had suggested pho before I left for work in the morning to combat a mild illness, I thought it sounded like a good idea, but figured it was an unaffordable luxury given my spare food budget. Whether the meal Brian Clarey calls “Indochine penicillin” cured me or not I don’t know, but it definitely had a therapeutic effect. Piling the rice noodles and bean sprouts (no basil or cilantro, for reasons I don’t understand) into the steaming broth, then experimenting to find the ideal balance of chili paste and hoisin sauce, and then digging down into the plastic container to find the chewy morsels of chicken provided an involved experience beyond the utilitarian exercise of ingesting a deli sandwich. Especially considering that my wife paid for the meal, it was well worth it.

So yeah, I’m slowly coming to the realization that it’s high time for a break. And the longer I resist it, the more my productivity will suffer. But that’s not the point: We need to cut loose and cultivate an enjoyment of life for its own sake.

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