So here’s a story about my recent trip to Hawaii: I was travelling with my friend Penny from England. I am profoundly grateful to her for including me in the incredible invitation she had to stay in a stunning timeshare on Kauai. But as we spent our week together in paradise, all was not totally paradisiacal. It turned out that we move at very different tempos: I am speedy, and Penny is not. I am brisk and efficient and churning like a steamship, and Penny is relaxed and taking her time and enjoying the ambience. And though we like each other a great deal, there was this tiny conflict of personality: slow versus fast. Efficient versus relaxed.
I am focussed on the destination: got to get there, wherever it is. I hate detours, I hate delays. When we discussed this, Penny pointed out that we were on vacation, could we not take it easy? The poor woman, I feel for her, dealing with a relentless machine powering ever forward. I realized how very much like my father I am in some ways, a New Yorker through and through. I have never known a New Yorker who dawdles.
Penny and I are still friends. But at the end of our trip together, she told me she was going to try to move a bit faster and be more organized, yes. But to me, she said she thought I should do more yoga and meditation. And you should take a break from your blog, she said.
And what I have to say to you, Penny, is this: You’re right.
She’s right. I make no apologies for being driven, focussed, uber-organized; it’s how I get so much done. It’s unthinkable to me to do one thing at a time; I finally decorated my Xmas tree last night because I was kind of watching John Lennon’s 75th birthday party on TV at the same time. Spending 20 minutes just standing there putting on decorations, without doing anything else, was unimaginable. But there’s a price to pay, and I think my impatience sometimes adversely affects my life. Sometimes, all that efficiency gets in the way of enjoyment, of ambling, exploring, just being wherever you are, whenever you are there. I think my work is affected too, by wanting to get to the finish line, the finished manuscript, instead of taking however much time is needed on the journey there.
I am trying. I am trying to slow down and breathe and take it easy, even if I don’t quite know what that means.
So what I am going to do next is this one small thing: take a break from the blog. To sit and write about the world is a way of withdrawing from the world for a bit, and I’m going to try not doing that and see if I go mad. Is talking to you my sanity? Today I went to the Y just to sit in the sauna, and as I sat in the steam, I found myself putting together an elaborate blog post about the day. I am living my life while telling you, minute by minute, about that life, and though I love writing here, it takes a lot of time and psychic energy.
I know, I’ve said this before, but this time I am really going to do it. I am going to take a two week break from this blog. I’ll be back Monday January 4 2016.
It’s Christmas; you are all really busy, and so am I. After Xmas we’re going to Ottawa for a few days. And then it’s New Year’s Eve. All the way through, I am going to be desperate to tell you about the goings on. But I won’t. Not until January 4, when I’ll have a lot to tell.
Because Penny is right. Sometimes a person needs to sit down and shut up and pull back.
Merry Christmas, happy holidays, and a joyful and fulfilling 2016 to you. I will miss you very much. Talk to you soon.
PS Before I sign off: I just read an utterly terrifying op-ed piece in the NYT today, Roger Cohen comparing Trump to Hitler. Read the piece; he’s right, the rise of a racist demagogue drumming up violent hysteria in an aggrieved nation.
Just to leave you with a warm bit of cheer on this December night. Oh well – at least we have each other.