Still trying to get going
I am not a great fan of holidays. I like travel: seeing different cultures and people and places, but the difference between travel and holidays is that travel involves more-or-less perpetual motion (stopping to sleep, eat, pee etc. – if you are lucky…) and holidays involve one big travel (plenty of stress for me if that’s a suspended in mid-air job) and then not so much after arrival.
(Unless, you are my father, who perhaps could have equally well written this post, as even Northern Portugal could not contain his interest for two weeks – whereupon he was forced to make lengthy forays over the border into Spain (Roman walls, rocky coastlines, Catholic cathedrals, pilgrims’ paths and neolithic settlements on windy, not-quite-mountain-tops. Oh and a car ferry (one-way) thrown in for good measure.)
(Then there is sister A in whom I detected a similar twitch, for the first week at any rate. She desisted from the round Iberia travels, but did shoot out the door fairly sharpish most mornings On A Mission and we both agree that although beaches are pretty, they are places of potential danger to life and limb and not in the least comfortable to lie on -unless civilisation is within a literal arm’s reach.)
The thing is, once one is there – what does one do? This is not meant to sound churlish. I like many aspects of the holiday experience – spending time with the family is the main one I suppose – but just as our greatest strength is our greatest weakness… The other is the chance for the brain to switch off a bit. It’s a necessary evil I suppose, but it’s the part that makes me like holidays least. I don’t like my brain switched off at all, it’s unnerving. Yet when I set off, I knew it was needed – vital even. Before the break, my eyes felt like they were spinning in my head like those wheels in a one-armed bandit machine. It was pretty alarming – especially when driving. I checked with a colleague at work, but they said, ‘no,’ my eyes were doing no such thing. I put it down to too much screen-staring, so the holiday was a chance to take a break from that. However, I need something to stare at. A view, however wonderful, can only detain my attention for so long (like a minute). So, I stared at quite a lot of books whilst I was away. And I read them too. Occasionally, I closed my eyes and tried a little meditation too. I think this is the way forward. Plenty of screen and page, with the occasional good view, and a lot of moments of meditation.
This morning, as I attempted to crank the morning brain into gear with a coffee, I found this at the bottom of my pot. I think it’s quite beautiful. I might detain my attention for, oh, like a minute. However, if you are of the holiday-loving, non-slattern persuasion – look away now.
The other advantage of travel over holiday is that, due to presenting a moving target, one does not get bitten to death by bastard mosquitoes.