We finally did it.

We escaped from the city for a glorious four days of family vacation. We stayed in a small cabin, the dense forest behind us and the open meadow before us, surrounded by looming mountains and towering trees. Hiking trails crossing the paths of wild deer, ostriches, rabbits and raccoons lead to picturesque lakes and waterfalls.

Add to that a swimming pool and a host of new friends for my children to play with, and this was a vacation everyone was enjoying.

I sat in the meadow, sun beaming, pen and paper in hand as the children played happily around me. For once, I could think in calm silence and write to my heart's content, instead of stealing a harried moment from the chores or responsibilities of my daily grind.

I sat, pen and paper in hand. But nothing emerged. My mind, usually so bombarded with ideas, was as blank as the paper I was holding.

I attempted to write down a thought that had occurred to me earlier that week, to no avail. The words didn't flow. The sentences sounded forced.

Why? Why when I had no pressures, no anxiety, no chores or responsibilities, no phone calls or people requiring my attention, was I so uninspired?

Only later did it occur to me that perhaps it is precisely those pressures, precisely those chores and responsibilities, precisely those tasks and people pulling me from all directions, that contributed to who and what I am and what I have to say.

Perhaps, like the character that is brought out only by the wrinkles on our faces and gray hairs on our heads marking our worries and our age, so, too, perception and insight will derive only from the bothers and burdens of daily living. Perhaps meaningful words can be set on paper only by a fully-lived life, not one blank of responsibility.

I spent four glorious days luxuriating in the scenery, relishing the relaxation, experiencing nature and enjoying the time spent with my family — but my sheets of paper remained as blank as ever.

We arrived home from our vacation late on a Thursday night.

Fridays are always busy days, particularly this one, after a four-day absence. I came back to work deadlines, an incessantly ringing phone, a course syllabus to be published, a flight reservation to be booked — and of course all the hampers of laundry to be washed and folded, in addition to the usual Shabbat preparations.

And amidst this all, when the pressures seem their strongest, my mind is suddenly teeming with ideas and thoughts.

Maybe I'll even sneak a moment to record this one.