For more years than most sane people can handle, I actively angsted about what to do with my life.
There’d been assumptions that I needed to write which eventually fuelled very vague plans to become a journalist… when clearly we all should’ve known I’m designed to be a tortured writer and not the roving reporting kind. Hemingway may’ve been both, but these are distinct professions. Or one is a profession and the other is an affliction.
Given this angst, my holidays — or vacations to us Yanks, were architected to detour my brain away from the frenetically pointless circuits that “what to do with my life” involved. Without the distraction of work and places to be and people to see, I’d spend my “down time” over thinking. And so I signed up for biking holidays through regions so hilly the only reoccurring thinking I had went something like, “Jesus, I think I’m going to die.”
I did other “keep fit” endurance breaks too, but I particularly enjoyed the pain of uphill cycles. I liked the pain when it distracted me and I liked the pain when it stopped because it made me too tired to think big thoughts. It made me enjoy very small things. Like being able to sit on a chair and not a bone-crushing saddle.
But now that I no long suffer from a perpetual attempt to find my right job (this question has been pretty much resolved — I’ve embraced the tortured writer thing but diluted it with a healthy dose of actual paid work doing something interesting and not related to my writing), holidays allow me to chill out. I can read books now. I can stare at the waves and crush my toes in the sand. I can lie down. I can float in the sea. It’s all good.
I’m also wise enough now to know that it’s never a good idea to bring any sort of “life decision” on holidays. Appropriate decision making of this magnitude is best handled in the shower or when asleep or just maybe on a long train journey. But that’s about it. “I’m taking a week off work to go somewhere and concentrate hard on what to do with my whole life” is no longer unbearably tempting. “I’m going to St. Lucia to swim in the ocean and listen to the crickets and to play with Buddy the squinty-eyed cat” has proved more of a winner.
However on this particular break — here in St Lucia, obviously I have been thinking about that misconceived intention I once had to become a journalist.
By accident (not a total fluky accident, but a bit of randomness nonetheless), both the movie I watched on the plane over and the book I’ve been reading on the beach concerned themselves with newspaper life.
More on these two newspaper stories in tomorrow’s Beach News, for now it’s time for a Pimms and a quick swim followed by some empty-brained staring out to sea.