On a beach in a Caribbean island, I ran over my usual list of New Year resolutions: manage the weight, exercise regularly, save money, save the trees, go e•books, write more, read more, work less, drink less, shamelessly self promote, keep building my online platform etc., etc., etc.
As nudists on the adjacent beach strutted their stuff, ate and drank copiously, and engaged in a relentless flesh•hunt, I was seeking the austere life. I did not stop with my usual list of resolutions this time either. I went deeper: talk•less, desire less, listen more, dream more, blog only about things that matter, take more risks, make more mistakes (i.e. learn more lessons). I was really getting going here. And there was more to come: open the heart, give until it hurts, burn the writing that does not help humanity, endure more dark nights of the soul – oh boy, and I hadn’t even had a margarita yet. By this time, the sun was high, the nudists roasted and soused, and there was I, a noble idiot, digging myself into the largest hole of self denial, when all about me others were just “havin’ a good tyme, man!”
The solitary nature of my occupation came home to me, especially amidst this sea of humanity that had come to the Caribbean to chill out and be brainless for a short time. As I walked the beach, I scanned for what people were reading. There was one e•reader amidst the variety of paperback genre novels (Dan Brown was still going strong), spread out on deck chairs; their owners were either lapping up the sun with their eyes shut and their reading material abandoned, or dousing themselves in the ocean, or helping themselves to their umpteenth dirty banana (a cocktail) for the day. There was no evidence of literary fiction on this beach.
“Want ganja, man?” the local beachcomber asked me. “No,” I replied. “How about a girl?” “No!” I said. “Want a ride in my canoe?” He kept pace with me, like a barnacle on a boat. “No, I can’t swim.” “How about some fun?” “What’s that?” I asked. “Ganja, girl and canoe – with a life vest,” he replied, looking concerned, “you looking too serious, man.” “I write books,” I clarified. A wide grin broke on his face, “Ah that explains it, man – you loco, right?” “Right,” I said, and left him to find a more interested customer.
The solitary resolution that I am sticking to since returning from this beach holiday does not resemble any of my perennials. I don’t have to worry about those mainstays—they will get done—they are second nature to me now. And those newer, harder items, like spending more dark night with my soul etc., have been scrapped as well. My only resolution since returning from Jamaica is “Get a life, man!”