Did the recent holiday season given you itchy feet?
The expression itchy feet is not connected with any physiological problem, instead, itchy feet according to the Collins Dictionary is “a strong desire to leave a place and to travel: The trip gave me itchy feet and I wanted to travel more.”
As the summer school holidays wrap up it can be hard to reconnect with ‘normal’, ‘everyday’ life.
As the summer school holidays wrap up—and as many of us return from travelling, holidaying, relaxing and experiencing new things—it can be hard to reconnect with “normal”, “everyday” life when we return to work. Perhaps we have been to exotic locations, seen amazing things, experienced new and delicious cuisines (or just good old fish and chips by the beach) and been away from the pressures and challenges of work.
There is wonderful refreshment and energy that comes from having an enjoyable adventure. So much so that our feet can itch upon return, making us want to immediately start planning the next adventure. The search for great experiences, pleasure and enjoyment that drives many of our colleagues can also affect us and our ambitions and plans.
The notion that you only live once drives the search for the best experiences and the search for a full and happy life.
Indeed, hedonism is a powerful idol of our world. The notion that you only live once drives the search for the best experiences and the search for a full and happy life. Social media accelerates this impulse and provides the ability to share these experiences with the wider world.
I was reflecting on this just last week, whilst on a beautiful beach on the Great Ocean Road, about what the Bible says about hedonism and the desire for experience. My mind was drawn to Ecclesiastes 2:10, where the Teacher reflects on his own life:
I denied myself nothing my eyes desired;
I refused my heart no pleasure.
He lived the hedonistic, experiential life and yet he concludes in the very next verse,
Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done
and what I had toiled to achieve,
everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind;
nothing was gained under the sun.
My frustration with a wonderful experience is that it always ends. It’s elusive and can’t remain forever. A gorgeous sunset is only gorgeous for a few moments, then it’s gone. A beautiful beach is beautiful until the weather changes. A glorious bushwalk eventually ends with the path or when you arrive at the destination.
This is not to say that experiences are bad things, not at all—wonderful experiences are great things. But they must be kept in perspective. Experiences are good gifts from our good creator to enjoy for a season, not things for us to chase and revolve our lives around—for in the end that will be like chasing the wind, or trying to hold sand in your hands. Chasing experiences will ultimately lead to emptiness and disappointment. The Bible accurately diagnoses the challenge of pursuing a life of hedonism.
This is difficult to appreciate in our culture which doesn’t have much time for introspection, and which possesses so many experiences to choose from (along with the wealth to pursue them).
Yet, as I contemplate these things, my mind is also drawn to the promise of Jesus in John 10:10: “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”
This is the ultimate goal that our impulse to enjoy experiences points to. In Jesus we find a truly full life: a life of meaning, connection and relationship, not simply a chain of good times.
We may have the temptation to scratch those itchy feet; we may look with jealousy at the wonderful experiences our colleagues share on social media. But in Jesus we have something far more precious; something more valuable and enduring.
So reflect, and enjoy our summer holiday and experiences, whatever we did, but as the new working year begins, let’s put that in perspective and remember that Jesus is always better.