I've been off the blog for a week or so because I've been off email, phone, laptop and anything other tool of technology that might be useful for my career while I trekked about the Eastern Sierra Nevada. I made the plan for the trip. Got the boyfriend to take time off from work. Got clients in a happy place. And just as everything was set in stone, wham! Work piles in just the way it's going to right before a vacation. Suddenly it's the worst possible time for a vacation. Which is, of course, exactly when you NEED a vacation.
Most of us are wedded to our jobs. If we aren't wedded to our jobs, we're wedded to schedules, or routines, or some narrative about what must happen or not happen before life continues on. We like to build narratives around our week because that's what humans do. We're apes that tell stories. And mostly we tell them to ourselves. It got us through millions of years of evolution, but lately it seems to be a mixed blessing. We get trapped in our own narrative.
You know the feeling of the end of a vacation. You sheepishly open the laptop and the emails start to download. You turn on the phone and the voicemails appear. I had this moment driving back into the Bay Area watching driver after driver deeply focused on a phone conversation. I'd been away long enough for that to seem weird again. Thank god for that. And when I turned on the laptop and the phone I got the real message: neither the world nor my work life had collapsed despite the fact that I had enjoyed a lazy, timeless, and magnificent trek through one of the most beautiful places on earth with my favorite human being.
I've felt a creative block for the last month or so. I've been in production, which is hectic and time-consuming and all-around rough on a writer. I've been teaching a college class. And scriptwrangler.com's been busy. None of these things are good for a creative life. I couldn't get out of my own narrative.
Vacations are all about resetting the frame -- getting away from your Monday deadline mentality and back to what makes a writer write. I saw a 150 year old town that died away sixty years ago. I saw a 600-year-old volcano on the shore of a million year old lake. I saw three-billion year-old creatures that have had their entire existence replaced with a truly humiliating alternative narrative. I wandered lakes at 10,000 feet above sea level. I saw a sea at 6,500 feet above sea level, where life thrives like it might on a distant planet. I met people who looked like stories to me, and who saw me as a story. I saw how astonishing and bizarre and beautiful and overwhelming California truly is. And it's all real. And it's all beautiful. And I'm thanking god and her life-partner I'm alive in it.