Today’s rambling: I’ll be on a ship a month from now

I’m not sure what I need to do to prepare. I have the clothes. I have a suitcase. That’s not the problem. I don’t seem to be able to determine what I’ll do with my time while I’m away. Will I read? Will I sleep to an exceedingly late hour? Will I get seasick and wish I’d stayed at home? Will I get up early, run around all day, participate in events and excursions and fall into bed exhausted late in the evening and get up the next day to do it all over again?

My concern is that I need the break. I need to reset my clock. What I don’t know is what will do that best. It’s the little stuff that make me nuts. Should I take some of the things I’ve been wanting to do? Should I take that portable watercolor set I bought several years ago, but never used? (I always think that now isn’t the time to commit to painting, so it sits unused and I begin to feel guilty that I have what I need to do something I’ve been wanting to do, but I never start for fear that I won’t have time to enjoy or finish a project.)

Maybe my harmonica? No, that would annoy others. I’d better leave that at home and pick through the learning process on the farm, while the kids are at school and I don’t have an audience to cause me embarrassment.

Should I take reading material? I loathe the fact that I never seem to read anymore. I want to read. I should read. What kind of writer doesn’t read?!?! Sure, I read tomes online. I am forever looking up information, researching, reading on the digital platforms. But I want to read BOOKS. I want to smell the paper and the ink. I want to read fluff and substance — either in shifts or in chunks. So, do I take printed pages with me?

If I decide I should, should they be what will be good for me, or should they be the literary equivalent of junk food? Should I bring a couple magazines? Some of the fluffy novels I have waiting patiently on my shelf? Should I review some of the greats – those volumes that started my passion for writing? Should I take Samuel Johnson, Emerson, Thoreau, Milton, Shakespeare? Johnson and Emerson really call to me lately — although I never answer them.

If I take something fluffy, will I feel ok about that? Will I sit on a deck chair and sun myself, wearing my new collapsible and uber-packable sunglasses and forget about worrying that a body like this should not be publicly displayed wearing a swimsuit? Or should I wear something more respectable and concealing and read the classics? Maybe I should take The Art of Happiness. It’s time for me to re-read that one. Maybe one of the other Dali Lama books that I’ve not yet read, but keep reaching for on the shelf, only to chastise myself about finishing up that pressing project before rewarding myself with a book.

Or should I try to forget about all that packing and simply buy a book onboard if I get the urge? I have a mini-library of audio books I could load up on my iPhone. Several I’ve been “meaning” to hear for some time. I could take those without adding bulk to my suitcase.

Audiobooks are great for trips, but add little of the joy of reading to my life. They are a way I can “read” while I drive, or while I walk. They are a way to avoid the blinding, headache-inducing reflection of the midday sun off a printed page while outdoors without a good tree to lounge under. They are not, however, a replacement for the tactile joys of book-reading.

I’m chasing my tail trying to figure out how to spend my time onboard the ship. How pathetic.

Maybe I should pack nearly nothing and try my hand at being bored. I’m not sure that would be possible without great personal effort on board a cruise ship. I’ve longed for the opportunity to experience boredom for several years now. I’d like to have that “I don’t know what to do with my self” feeling again at least once before I die.

My first husband said I couldn’t be spontaneous, that I had to plan everything.

I’m not saying that man was right — I’d never admit to that — but I’m beginning to wonder if I don’t over-contemplate life without taking the time to actually FULLY enjoy life.

I’m even re-evaluating my definition of “vacation” right now. I’m fairly certain that a vacation for me could just as easily be spending time anywhere that I’m not feeling the urge to be productive. I can’t do that on the farm right now because there is so much that must be done. I can’t do it here right now for the same reason. I can’t vacation near a computer because my dance card and the work that I need to do for my own business and my clients’ businesses is omni-present (and breathing down my collar). I can’t “vacation” at my parent’s house because there are so many things I want to do with them.

So where IS the place that I can “let go” and be “off call” in the known universe? Since I’m taking the children, the opportunity to be “off call” is rather scant. I accept that. It’s part of being a parent of children under the age of… well… 42 (according to my own parents). And I notice that age goes up every year around the time I celebrate a birthday. Hmmmm.

If the physical surroundings can’t be found where I can vacation, perhaps it’s not the surroundings. Perhaps it’s internal. Perhaps it’s me.

So what do I need to do to let go? To enjoy a vacation? To not try to “over plan” and thereby “under enjoy” my time?

I guess I’ll go without a stack of books. I’ll take my journal. I’ll take my watercolor pencils in case I’m feeling creative and a single paintbrush to poke some water at the lines I make if I’m feelingly really spunky. I can paint in my big journal without ruining it, I think, so I can add that option by packing a few pencils.

I’ll take a package of ink cartridges, so I don’t run out. I’ve gone through a whole pack since I bought my fountain pen, and I only have one extra remaining at this point.

I may load up an audio book or two on the iPhone. Just in case.

If I want a magazine, I’ll buy one. I may carry a single book with me, if I’m so inclined during the 11th hour of packing (or if I have one that I’m currently reading). If I want a fluff book, I’ll buy it on board, read it and give it to someone else to enjoy. I’ll minimize the number of items I take with me to keep from spending all my time trying to keep up with my stuff. That would be a horrific waste. I’ll take the iPhone because it has my music, will have a couple books and may contain a couple movies I’ve been wanting to watch — just in case. I’m not taking a computer. Period.

I’ll take a portable DVD player down for viewing on the trip. That should make the journey to and fro a bit more enjoyable for those in the back seat. That will be good. I’ll leave it in the trunk before we board the ship.

I think my life is too full of “stuff” and distractions and “entertainment” — and that may be why I never seem to catch up and do all that I want to do. So I’ll minimize that while on the ship. I will.