By Tom Ehrich

PORTSMOUTH, NH — As much as I love the fast pace and commotion of Manhattan, I find the slow and quiet pace of this coastal city to be intoxicating.

It’s vacation, of course. I expect the even slower pace of rural Maine this weekend to be heavenly. It’s good to start the day slowly and to do exactly what my wife and I want to do, which usually is various forms of “who cares?”

Nothing earnest. If I want to check work email, I do so. If I don’t, messages age nicely. If I want to set myself a goal — one form of lobster every day — that’s great, but if I miss a day and am forced to eat salmon, well, that’s okay, too.

Lunch at an all-organic-everything restaurant in Exeter is interesting. Lunch at an all-mayonnaise lobster roll joint on the beach in Rye is fine, too.

I feel a bit like “Peter,” the lead character in the film “Office Space,” who, under the lingering effects of hypnosis, decides that some things don’t matter much and “it’s all good.”

I don’t expect this feeling to survive my return to Manhattan. But that’s okay. Vacation is vacation, not the first chapter on a lifetime of sloth.

So we do things as a family group. Then we retire to our separate corners. We cook, we eat, we sit around talking about whatever seems interesting, or about nothing at all.

The one earnest lesson I am learning is this: take more vacations. I rarely take time off. I love the work I do and can always find the energy for it. For me, a vacation isn’t an escape. I don’t need an escape.

A vacation is like lobster: an alternative food group all to itself. I don’t know what got into God’s mind on the day God created the lobster. Nor do I fully understand the Sabbath. Both seem to say, “Chill.” Or in the words of a long-ago rock hit, “Frankie say relax.”

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