‘The thing with holidays,’ I said to my cousin Neil this morning, ‘is that the benefits don’t last very long. Soon as you’re back at your desk, you’ve forgotten you went away.’
‘But surely that’s up to you? You can take the time to edge yourself back into it. It’s really in your hands, isn’t it.’ I grumbled a bit, and while I ended up agreeing, I’m still not sure I’m totally convinced. There are the 256 emails and the fortunately fewer phone messages that need attention for a start – and then there are all those great story ideas I had while I was on my eight-day annual leave that I want to do something with before I forget.
So while the pace of my life is to some extent in my hands – on the other hand it isn’t, is it? It’s that battle with the something deep down that tells me that instead of going like the clappers of hell and then suffering from periods of creative and physical exhaustion, I’d probably achieve just as much by pacing myself. Or perhaps it’s not that deep down, just that I’m having trouble recognizing that there’s a better way to work and play. But then my mind asks, even if I prioritize, organize, pace myself, will then this busyness stop? I worked for some years for an American publishing company who held the edict that an indispensable employee was counterproductive to both the company and the person and therefore better fired. Savage or real? In my experience, real. Someone’s indispensable, you’d better believe you need back-up in some form or other.
Breathe, get back into yoga, meditation, start tapping…
Or just gaze at the pic above that I’ve just posted as my screensaver and step back into the slower mode of the far north of Queensland. Relive my first attempt at snorkelling the reef just off Cape Tribulation, an amazing place where – unique in the world –the two heritage sites of the Daintree Rainforest and the Great Barrier Reef touch each other. Take the time to revisit the sensation I had of being completely captivated and deeply privileged as I watched the reef fish, the coral, the giant clams go about their business, an experience both thrilling and incredibly humbling. Or rewind to the drives through this part of the country where long fields of cane meet the dense layers of mountain range, and all the time the ocean is just a cooee away. Or watch myself meandering through Mossman Gorge, listening to Yangandah and his stories about strangler figs, pythons, and about the most dangerous plant in the rainforest, watching as he paints his body with clay, as he scrunches fresh leaves from the sarsaparilla plant to make a foamy soap, join him in scooping up handfuls of sparkling water to drink – and drink so deeply from the river.
Eight glorious days. But time-out? Yes, in part, I guess, but mainly inspiring sights and experiences. Which is something that the me in me would unthinkingly swap for another ten years on this planet.
Thank you all for your birthday wishes and for your comments. Your web comments will stay around us all in cyber-space, and your wishes I’ll save in a special jar and bring out the magic one-by-one as the year ahead unfolds and dictates. Please keep your thoughts coming – either on this site or by email. And please share your own holiday experiences. Or your suggestions for staying wound-down! Strangely, even the paragraph of reminiscence above has slowed me down. A little.
Happy reading, writing and holidaying.