Colca Valley, PeruI’ve been on vacation. Not just vacation-vacation, but vacation from quite a few things in my life. Writing, for one. Yoga. Swimming. Dating. Sex. Ironing. Even seeing friends, to some extent.

It’s fine, though. I just felt like I needed some time to step away from it all, clean the slate, clear the clutter, assess and regroup. It has served as a sort of experiment, too, to see what happens when I stop doing the things I do. How does the time fill up? Who calls? Do I get asked out on dates? Who misses me? Who do I miss? What do I miss doing?

It’s all kind of explicable: Surgery was just over a month ago, and that came just as I was starting to feel fully recovered from the previous surgery…so that accounts for the break from the physical; maybe the dating, too. And I took a long trip to Peru right after that, so I’ve been out of my routine.

Zona de Vicunas, Pampa Blanca, PeruThe trip was great, one of my best ever! As with the last time I traveled out of the country, I purposely left my phone at home. I didn’t miss it — except once, when a flight was cancelled and I missed seeing the email about it — and I thought my 17-day break from the iPhone might be a good start to a different kind of relationship with it.

Same with facebook. I did hop on a computer a couple of times while away, but only to take care of travel business. The one time I was tempted to check facebook, I couldn’t figure out how to type the “@” using the Spanish keyboard, so I took that as a sign of divine intervention and gave up. Blessed be.

Facebook is an addictive little bugger, even worse than the phone. As with the phone, I like it, mostly, and I think it serves a valuable purpose in my life at times, but why all the qualifiers in this sentence? I know what a time-robber it can be. I’m convinced it also causes me and my friends — whether or not they are on facebook — to see less of each other in real life.

At the same time, it’s my only connection with certain people I like being connected to. What to do? The easy answer: moderation. We’ll see if it’Meditation, Amantani Island, Perus easy to do. I’m not one of those people who can’t stop after one drink or one pint of ice cream, so there is hope. (Tortilla chips and Wheat Thins are another story.)

Since being back, I’ve used it to post vacation photos and connect with some people I met while traveling, and not so much else. That leaves a lot of time free.

There are few things quite as interesting as looking at how you spend your time. We all have 24 hours in each day, no more, no less. How we fill them matters, sure, but does it matter all that much?

Consider: I drove myself to write a blog post every week for the last year as a kind of discipline. I’m glad I did. I realize, though, that was an arbitrary rule I set out for myself just to ensure that I kept writing. It didn’t matter. As far as I can tell, no one cared about that rule but me.

But here’s the thing: without some kind of a structure, even if it’s totally made up, I find it almost impossible to do anything. Is that a sign of some kind of low-grade depression, is it laziness, or is it completely normal? I’ve heard arguments for all three diagnoses. (By the way, don’t ever tell a depressed person you wonder if maybe you are depressed. They will not like it one bit.)

So, dropping the requirement Machu Picchu, Peruthat I post on a schedule caused me to stop writing. Completely. It was a little frightening to see how easily that happened.

Similarly, when I quit my expensive gym months ago and no longer carried around in my head the idea that I needed to exercise something like 4 times a week to get my money’s worth, I stopped exercising almost entirely. (Granted, the operations had a little something to do with that as well.)

Do you see where this is heading? In my quest to go easy on myself, to care less, to simplify and cut myself some slack — which, you may recall, was this year’s resolution — I find myself going slack, quite literally, physically, and figuratively as well.

I resolved to keep less busy, to give myself down time, time for introspection and relaxation and petting the cats; but I know how I get when I have too much unstructured time on my hands. I go a little crazy. There’s a balance I’m trying to find, and it has been a sometimes uncomfortable process getting there. At least the cats are happy.

What I have been getting good at, though, is recognizing what kinds of things I want to spend my time doing. This whole vacation thing, it’s like I’ve cleared a big room of furniture and am now deciding what to put back in it.

Condor, Colca Canyon, PeruI like writing. When I don’t do it, I miss it. I like the challenge and the craft of it, and in a self-cherishing sort of way — more on that concept in a future blog post — I thrive on the feedback, the validation I get from others, and the gratification of knowing I might be having some small influence in the world, hopefully a positive one.

Yes, there is a big, probably unhealthy, dose of ego involved. It’s not easy letting go of the I, especially for a lifelong exhibitionist like me…but at least it’s an I nourished by connection with others. Otherwise, why bother? It’s nice to be back.


9 thoughts on “Slacker

  1. Davy, No matter where you physically are in the world, you will always be in my heart. Love you, love your blog. Your (almost) lifelong friend, Janey

  2. Love the pics from Peru! Love your blog! Love you! Maybe you need to open a grilled cheese sandwich restaurant?

  3. it’s funny because I feel like Facebook is silly for those of us who live close by and see each other in “real life” but I find that most people post things that we wouldn’t see otherwise. Or, like this blog, wouldn’t be expressed in person (in so many words). It’s a razor’s edge, I guess…..we CAN live with or without all the gizmos; the right amount is a fine line to find.

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