How I Spent My Summer Vacation
I was wondering… if I go on vacation for almost two whole weeks and I never Tweet or post to Facebook about it, did it really happen? If I travel through six states, put 3500 miles on the SUV, and never mention it on my blog… was I ever really gone?
And if I go on a family vacation without taking photographs or journaling even one word about my trip… did I actually go?
These are the questions that haunt me as I look back on the last two weeks in which I took a fabulous road trip with my family but consciously decided not to document it along the way. I decided, rather than recording, I’d simply experience. I wanted to be in the moment, not talking about the moment, not observing the moment, not making notes or taking photos of it. I just wanted to inhabit this precious time with my family.
There was a part of me that was a bit anxious. I’m so used to talking about what I’m doing, while I’m doing it. It felt odd to not Tweet “I’m in Yellowstone National Park where a guy got killed by a bear this morning.” I felt a bit discombobulated as I read all the blog comments on my Blackberry each day but didn’t join in the conversation because I was in a vacation state of mind. I felt strange not writing down some of the great things that happened, and found myself narrating everything in my mind as if I were telling it to someone or blogging about it.
It felt liberating and scary all at the same time.
But in the end, it seemed like I’d had a deeper experience somehow. I interacted on a deeper level with my family because I was never stopping to capture something in words. I stayed continuously embedded in the here and now and consequently, I think I enjoyed it more.
Of course I worried I might not remember all the wonderful details that normally I’d write down. But right now I’m thinking that this vacation left a more permanent impression on my heart, regardless of whether details remain in my mind. So maybe it was worth the tradeoff.
As writers (and social networking freaks) we’ve become so used to documenting our reality while we live it. There are so many good things about that. But now I’m wondering whether part of becoming a more powerful writer – and more fulfilled person – is knowing when to put down our pens (and recording devices of all kinds) and simply live.
What do you think?
P.S. I didn’t bring my camera, but the three other members of my family did, and we have 1300 photos to show for it. Here are a few.
(c) 2010 Rachelle Gardner, Literary Agent