Abandon Text!

W. H. Auden once said: "Poems are not finished; they are abandoned." I have been abandoning writing projects for many years, since only the pressure of deadline and high expectations ever got me to finish, or even start, anything of merit. This blog is an attempt to create a more consistent, self-directed writing habit. Hopefully a direction and voice will emerge.

Friday, January 12, 2007

The Computer-less Vacation

Another one of my resolutions for the coming year was to (gasp) actually take Harry's advice and take a real vacation. By real vacation, I don't mean my usual notion of vacation, where you stop going to work but you just use that time to "catch up" on things around the house. That might be a useful change of pace, and relaxing in its on way, but that's just time off. That's not a vacation.

In order for it to be a vacation, you have to vacate. You have to go somewhere else. As trite as it sounds, you really do need to "get away from it all." In the past I never found the idea of travelling vacations all that appealing, because travel requires lots of planning, has its own kind of stress involved, and is expensive. The things that usually entice people to travel -- new food, sunny beaches, shopping, site-seeing, and all the other images that cruise lines and credit card ads like to flash at you -- have limited appeal for me.

The only reason I want to go someplace else is to completely, utterly disconnect from my working life. It's the same reason I went and lived in the woods of West Virginia in near-perfect isolation for eight months -- I need to remember what it's like to alive apart from my work. And that will mean leaving the computer behind.

I can probably count on one hand the number days in the last three years in which I did not touch a computer at all. That's not necessarily bad . . . but I sense the potential for other capacities to atrophy, when so much of life is lived inside the Box. When my kids wander into my study, and want to get my attention, they know they can't always drag me away, so they ask to do things on the computer themselves. "Let's make numbers," they say, climbing into my lap. So I pull up WordPad and let them peck at the keyboard, while I kiss them on the top of the head. I dread the day when I will be the one coming into their rooms, trying to get their attention off the screens . . . I would like to live with them in a screenless world for as long as I can.

So I'm thinking Colorado . . . I see mountains in my future, and bike paths, and streams and lakes, and hikes in the daytime, and books and fires at night, and the ghostly haze of cathode rays dispelled by sunlight.

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