It’s hard to know exactly what makes a holiday a holiday. I was sure that a key component of a proper vacation, for me, would be an absence from my blog. And while I did manage a most enjoyably-spent almost four-week hiatus from the blog, the absence was not without its moments of anxiety—some more rational than others.
For one thing, once writing has become a part of your routine, you note the absence keenly. Not being a paying concern, writing is never something that hangs over my head, and its very voluntariness makes it a more pleasurable way of passing an hour or so each day. So at the beginning of the break, it was a real effort to keep myself away from the computer or note-book and to remind myself that I was supposed to find other ways of enjoying myself.
After a while, the more irrational anxieties set in. Not having read much news, I found myself wondering whether I was missing out on important developments. I consoled myself by leafing through the excellent Mail & Guardian, but this otherwise very good South African weekly has unaccountably failed to include a section of California news.
Eventually, as any of my thought processes are wont to do if I indulge them over too long a period, my wonderings descended into the land inhabited by gnomes and dwarves and climate change sceptics. “Is it possible”, I found myself wondering in moments perhaps characterised by marginally-less clarity than was optimal, “that the world could survive for so long without the benefit of my opinion?” The answer, the long-suffering individuals who were travelling with me informed me acerbically, was “yes”. Was it not the planet in danger of breaking out of its orbit and spinning off into oblivion? The answer to that one, much to my consternation, was a fairly resounding and depressingly unanimous “no”.
My ego having been soundly thumped and my mental dilemmas having been addressed, I resolved to spend not another minute thinking about the blog or the state of the world for the remainder of the trip and to devote my energies—in equal measures—to thoroughly enjoying myself and to suppressing the comments about Robert Mugabe that perched perpetually on the tip of my tongue whenever I saw his portrait looming over a hotel lobby desk or a shop reception. And I’m happy to say that I avoided any lese magesty and that California Mwananchi is not being written from inside a Zimbabwean prison cell. The earth may resume its orbit.