HERE’S A FIRST: I’m blogging in the air. I brought my laptop on this latest trip, not knowing if I’d use it for writing, but wanting to have it with me just in case. I figured it could come in handy, and it did…but not so much for writing.
As it turned out—and as I probably could have predicted had I thought much about it—I didn’t do much writing while away. Which is fine. I was busy vacationing, and one of the things I found (I didn’t realize it beforehand, though I wasn’t surprised) was that I wanted to take a vacation from everything.
I know there’s a stereotype out there of the writer who has an overwhelming need to write all the time. They say the same thing about all kinds of artists. I always felt like an imposter when in art school because I just didn’t feel it. I could live without doing it. Was there something wrong with me?
I’m a little smarter now, so don’t fall so easily into such self-doubt. I like writing. I miss it when I don’t do it, but it’s not as though there’s some divine calling compelling me. Writing is work—enjoyable work, often, but still, work. I find there’s great value in doing it regularly, to get better at it; but, as with most things in life, I also think there’s value in taking a break every once in a while.
I had been so busy for so long without a break—doing mostly things I like to do, but real busy—I decided pretty quickly once away that it felt nice to be on vacation from it all, not just work, but the whole routine: daily writing, bike riding, yoga, Facebook, getting 8 hours of sleep every night, even meditation. All of it was put more or less on hold.
And, as always happens when I take a long vacation, I find myself craving return to my usual life and look forward to approaching it afresh. Isn’t that, after all, a big part of what vacations are for? I find it can be good to take a break from things, even things that are good for me, once in a while. Doing so helps me decide consciously how those things fit into my life.
I realize I said similar things upon my return from Peru last year. Then, I worried more than I do now about going so long without posting on here. I thought it was important to post on a schedule, even though nobody really cared about the schedule but me. As far as I know, nobody else ever noticed if I was late. But I know I have a tendency to slack off when not holding myself to arbitrary deadlines.
It doesn’t work for everyone. Most people logically know that the deadlines aren’t real, there are no consequences for missing them, and so they don’t have the intended effect. I must have a good imagination because I am usually able to fool myself into thinking that my fake deadlines matter.
Speaking of artificial deadlines, I look forward to putting into practice being a part of a writing group of a few people who will hold me accountable and keep me on track, deadlines and all. Having built some momentum during my recent online writing course, I crave returning to that work.
And so, we shall see. I hope I’ll be able to get some good work done and still manage to have a reasonably stress-free life…for that is another goal of mine: to make it all easier, to slow down and stop feeling like I am always running behind, like I am not doing enough, or god forbid, not good enough.
Travel is such a good teacher. This trip was a microcosm of my life in that I found myself pulled in two opposing directions, on the one hand wanting to take full advantage of being in special places and see and do a lot, and on the other, wanting to settle down and relax.
This trip was unusual in that I went to all places I’d never been, in Portugal and Andalucía, and tried to cover a lot of ground in a short amount of time. When able to stay in a city for more than a few days, I found I could see all the sights on my short list and still have time to wander without an agenda, which was nice; when I had just a day or two someplace, that became more difficult.
There were places I didn’t get to that I would love to have seen, but isn’t that always the case? You can’t do it all. And you can really stress out yourself (and your travel companion) trying to do too much. It can be hard to find that balance, in travel as in life. I enjoyed my time away. A part of me wishes I could have stayed longer. And I am glad to be heading home.