Get a life: Sometimes it's OK to relax

Michael Cavanaugh, DVM, DABVP

We had a GREAT yearly conference in Phoenix back in March. Yearly conference is always one of my favorite weeks of the year, as well as the most exhausting. I think that also goes for all of the wonderful AAHA staff that are there making sure our attendees have a great experience. By the end of the week, there is nothing left from me. I've left it all on the field; I'm brain dead and physically spent. Now mind you, I'm not complaining, just stating the way it is.

My friend, Pete, thinks if you sit still for a few minutes or watch a TV show, you've missed an opportunity to participate in some outdoor activity. Now, everyone knows by now how much I love spending time in the great outdoors of Colorado. But sometimes, it's OK to do nothing. And, I think a healthy balance of doing nothing and doing something is always great.

Following yearly conference, my wife and I had the opportunity to travel to the big island of Hawaii. We have visited most of the Hawaiian Islands over the years, but never Hawaii. While there, I sought the perfect balance between doing nothing and doing something. We discovered some cabanas that always seemed to be empty in the late afternoon. I spent several afternoons lying there, reading a book, drinking a frosty beverage, feeling the sea breeze lightly touching my skin, and hearing the wonderful sound of waves crashing on the rocky shore. I got pretty accustomed to watching the sun drop down toward the horizon right between my feet. It was awesome.

We are avid scuba divers, although having kids in college (2003 to present) has cramped our diving style a bit. Nonetheless, we decided we would do some diving while there. We spent some time researching and decided we'd go with Big Island Divers in Kona. It ended up being a great choice. The highlight of our diving was the famous "Night Dive with the Mantas". We did a dive at dusk just off the coast near the Kona airport. After dark, we prepared to meet the mantas. Extra weights enabled us to sit pretty still on the ocean bottom in about 35 feet of water. This area of the sea floor was pretty well scraped clean by a storm several years ago. The divers go down and congregate there, with all of their lights shining upward. The lights draw the plankton in. The plankton draw the mantas in. Before you know it, there is a beautiful ballet playing out before your eyes as the mantas gracefully swoop in, glide, do loops, and swim within inches of your nose and the top of your head. Most of the mantas are named based on unique features: Lefty has a paralyzed left fin and Big Bertha lives up to her name. Big Island Divers has some amazing video from one of these manta ray night dives:

To help balance out the heavy duty watching-the-sunset-between-my-feet activities, we also spent some time in Volcano National Park and enjoyed some hiking there.

It can make you feel pretty insignificant on this planet when you observe marvels such as volcanoes, lava flows, and the beauty of the ocean. Amazingly, by the end of our time in Hawaii, we were anxious to come home, energized by a healthy balance of doing nothing and doing something. I highly recommend trying it, Pete.

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