Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Tips For A Great Hiatus

I remember one of the guidance counselors we had in high school who tried his best to steer kids right but was basically a failure. I don't remember him doing me a bit of good. He wasn't any good at guiding or counseling. He got a good paycheck from the school district, but I'm still waiting for his advice to kick in: Go home and think over your future. OK, I've been home thinking now for close to 40 years! What's next?

It turns out, now that I see it in black and white there, that I used up my future thinking about it. And now I'm a lonely old man, left to look at my depressing visage in the shards of a broken mirror. I could've been a teenage idol. I had good hair, teeth, and skin. Let's say I were to bound up on a stage. I could've waved with all the enthusiasm of a natural born star. But he said performers often face years of struggle and only a meager few make it to the big time. So that was discouraging.

But, hey, I'm not that unhappy with the way things turned out. I'm still here. I still have some hair, some of these teeth are still halfway decent, and this is definitely skin. It's skin toned anyway, appropriate for the race I happen to be. And I'm very proud of my race, since it's what I was born and I had absolutely nothing to do with it. That's the best kind of pride. All in all, I think I did all right. I've had a roof over my head all these years and a bathroom.

And now that I'm on hiatus, I have all the free time in the world. I can get up and do what I want. If I feel like working I do. And if not, hey. The fact is I was overworking there for a while, with all the responsibilities of this blog, plus the newsletter, plus some of the getting together with real life visits. It was like I had a mini empire going there, reminding me that when "friends" and "followers" start clamoring to have their needs fulfilled, there's no end to it. And some of the needs were great. Most of the folks you meet on the internet are voracious. Nothing is good enough but more, more more.

But were I to be a guidance counselor for some of these sad souls, I might recommend, take a hiatus of your own. Just pull back from whatever you're doing and don't do it. Claim your space, stake your claim, and insist on it. Some days you'll feel like giving up and going back to your labors, but resist.

Then when you've got your hiatus cinched up good and tight, continue to be firm: I will not work. I will take time off. Soon you'll find that whoever it was who was making demands on you, they're nowhere to be found anymore. It's just you, stripped to nothing. At that point you'll feel a mixture of sadness and of joy. But the joy will be in the background, very miniscule.

The sadness will come to the fore. You will struggle with it, a titanic struggle. You will think you've hit an iceberg, that you're about to split open, and that you're about to flip up on one end, and go down with just a few bubbles to show for it. Don't worry about it, it's really not that bad. At least you'll realize it wasn't so bad after the joy starts breaking through. Then there's a good balance of joy and sadness, and finally the joy kicks in in full.

At this point I have so much joy that ... [I can't describe it.]

The thing is you will have joy if you stake out a hiatus and follow through on it. Find your own personal space, retreat there, and look to see what all lies out in front of you for the years ahead.

No comments: