Time off usually means a road trip, an overnight flight or the use of a passport. It could also mean a retreat into the woods, complete with a week’s worth of chips, library books and booze, also known as family time.
Alas, what we once knew as the family vacation has become a thing of the past. There is less opportunity for the summer days to drag on deliciously, now that my boys are more interested in using their time to make money. This is a good thing. This is the second summer of our transition. We still spend most weekends together, but a work-sanctioned week off is no longer what it used to be. We straddle between the city and the country, no longer privy to a solid nine days of unplugged isolation. But it is still what we make of it.
How’s that for pressure?
I’m really good at generating ideas. Too many. I have lots of plans, projects and dreams. I’m not so good at making them all come to pass. I’m easily over-excited, distracted and then dragged down by my own inertia. I get overwhelmed and never know where to start or how to keep on track. It’s a lot easier to give up and take a nap. However, somehow, last year I got my shit together long enough to build a website. I was pretty pleased with myself and the accomplishment ended up being the highlight of my summer.
So, faced with a week off and no need for another website, I am fearful. Like the rest of us, when I’m at work I crave time to throw myself headlong into my many projects and “really live my life”. But when quitting time comes around, I’m tired. All I want is to sit on the porch and have another glass of wine.
I have the gift of a week. What if I blow it?
That was my fear. Well-founded, right? After my porch-sitting, I was even more tired. I hauled myself into bed and reached for my book. But first, I needed to make sure there were no great revelations from the universe.
But there was. Just one was all I needed. And I found it on the Twitter. It would be more charming, of course, to pretend that inspiration came at me through the printed page or via whispered words of wisdom, but the fact is that I found it online on the sticky screen of my damn smartphone. But the fact is also that the words I needed to see were from a poet of my acquaintance, someone like-minded enough to have congregated with fellow writers and other assorted creatives three months ago in Reykjavik. He mentioned, very simply, that he needed to work on his blog.
Ah! The eureka moment when you are reminded of your path and gently guided back by a signpost. When a comrade’s to-do list mirrors yours. When you realize that by reaching out, you can get a leg up. That the words aren’t just for looking at, but actually have meaning.
I woke up this morning and knew that the power of the week will stem from the words. So instead of letting a lazy staycation wash over me, I am opting for a self-directed creative retreat. I’m heading into the woods with my paints and my canvases, my wool and my needles, and my laptop. I will finish a pair of socks and maybe start another. I will map out a series of paintings and hopefully complete a couple. As I swim, I will think more about a story that’s in my head and eventually let at least part of it out. I will add pieces to a bigger project and feel that it is a work in progress. And I will hammer out my thoughts by way of these keys and turn them into words.
I will read the many books I brought and lose myself in the umpteen New Yorkers that make up my decor. I will drink wine and eat snacks. I will play games, talk rot and recharge.
But first I will take a nap.