Beyond the mindblowing experience of getting to soak up the natural beauty of Panama, one thing I really loved about the trip was the luxury of being unplugged. No phone calls, no email, no social media, none of that for the entire ten days. No news of the outside world, nothing. Julia’s dad, John, had his laptop, and his allowing Sid to use it in the evening to communicate with his girlfriend no doubt helped the little fella survive the trip, but I never checked anything. It was glorious. On the return, when we landed in Los Angeles, I almost felt nauseous when I was about to turn my cell phone on to call my folks and update them on our status, because I knew as soon as I did all the voice mails and emails and text messages and all that stuff that had accumulated would come flooding in.
Thing is, after boiling down over a thousand emails (the vast majority of which was spam) spread out over a couple personal accounts, plus work, there really wasn’t anything important that I’d missed. Not to mention all the Google feeds I just deleted unchecked (probably 90% of them, after cherrypicking from the ones I truly enjoy reading every day). Besides a few project-related work emails, of all the stuff that came across there were a grand total of three messages that I really cared about, and even those were only of mild interest, and wouldn’t have had any real big ramifications if I’d just ignored them.
Clearly, given the amount of time I spend with the electronic world, I’m putting way too much importance in it. That, and I realized I really don’t have much going on in my private life that is particularly relevant to the rest of the world. Which is why I haven’t blogged about the trip, even though I’m bursting with stuff to talk about. I’d rather sit in a coffee shop or at a bar with the dozen or so people who read this blog, face to face, than blog it. That isn’t going to happen, obviously, so eventually I’ll throw out a couple posts here and there. But damn, for all the “good” that’s touted about this social media thing, it really is pretty damn superfluous. Even as I say that I’m aware that I’ve met some great people via the online world, but I think it’s important that we all just step the hell away from it all a bit more frequently.
Getting outside, man, doing things, that’s where it’s at. Sitting at a computer just can’t compete. In Panama, I even spent a couple evenings by myself, after everyone else had retired to their rooms, sitting at the table on the porch where we always convened, jotting stuff in my notebook, or even just sitting and listening to the night sounds of the jungle (mostly bugs and night birds). If I close my eyes, I can almost imagine it right now. Looking at the pictures, or daydreaming about it, it’s hard to believe we were actually there at all.
So it probably comes as no surprise that after being back for about a week-and-a-half now it’s been a real struggle getting back into the daily groove. I know I risk sounding like a whiner, which I hate, but everything: work, writing, even exercise — to say nothing of the trials and tribulations of domestic life (paying bills, returning calls, et al) — has been pretty damn tedious. It was great to get away, and so difficult to come back.
To use a real stretch of a metaphor (and you’ll note that I just unleashed a horrible pun too!), think of the gate on a wire fence. I don’t know how many of you people grew up in environments where one was faced often with closing a gate on a very tight fence, but more and more making ends meet has been just like that; cussing and sweating and swearing while leaning against a post in hopes you can just squeeze it under the wire that holds the whole thing together. Sometimes it’s fine, but often that post just won’t get under the goddamn loop no matter how much elbow grease you put to it. The desire then is just to say fuck it and drop the gate on the ground and drive over it a couple times, but then all the freakin’ livestock will probably get out and everyone knows what a trial rounding them back up again can be.
Livestock. It’s enough to make me want to go full-on vegetarian. Problem is I find most vegetarian fare to be perfectly fine . . . as a side dish to a big piece of meat, that is.
For all the post-vacation existential angst, I’d do it again in a heartbeat. And will do another trip like this again, just as soon as possible. Meanwhile, I’ve uploaded a bunch of pictures from the trip. You can view a slideshow of them RIGHT HERE. If you click the Show Info in the upper right corner (as indicated in red in the following picture) it will give you a brief description of what the picture is. Hope you dig them. Just know they don’t come close to capturing what it was like to be there, though. Pictures almost never do.