Almost a year ago, I made this plan to go live on this island for this long-but-not-too-long stretch of time, and it was going to be fun and maybe a little boring but most definitely educational and instructional and rewarding in an isolated, introspective, existential sort of way.
That was the plan, and that remained the plan all throughout Europe and after my return and even until early last week, when I was tying up the logistics of getting myself, a yet-unowned kayak, some thirty gallons of water, and a pack containing ungodly amounts of trail mix and an unwieldy machete to a remote shore of the Florida Keys.
I was stressed, 'cause it all seemed a lot to haul around, and there was this lingering question of how I'd manage to cram it all into a kayak and paddle at least ten miles with my gear. And then there was the greater lingering question, the one that had been rattling around in the back of my mind recently—was an island adventure really even necessary at this point?
The island, after all, was supposed to be a reprieve from distraction, a reexamination of what was important, an imperative to focus. Yet for months, I have been making small, perhaps less extreme forays in removing myself from the clutter and chaos of modern life. I turned off push notifications on my phone; I left my phone in my bag or stopped carrying it around altogether. I got rid of my television, and I became much more deliberate about how long I was using my computer, and what for, and I stopped distracting myself with what was easy and began occupying myself with what was fulfilling. When great masses of friends left DC for the holidays in mid-December, I stuck around, and I spent nearly two weeks of tranquility holed up in my humble abode, just cooking and reading and reflecting and simply living—or living simply—on my little island by the cemetery. In the words of Rilke, "I shall move into a quiet and simple room ... I shall live there the whole winter and rejoice in the great quietness, from which I am hoping for the gift of good and profitable hours."
The hours were, indeed, profitable—so profitable I've decided that the island would no longer be the adventure I'd dreamed it, at least not right now. I won't say it's aborted; let's just called it a dream deferred, and toss it back into the maybe-next-time pile with El Camino de Santiago de Compostela.
But for now: new plan. I still don't like the idea of being in DC for February, because it's cold and dreary and all the little amber strings of light have been boxed up and stowed away for reasons unknown. I still want to be somewhere warm, and I still want to have an adventure. Same time, same duration, just a difference place.
I've always said if I had a month I'd go to India, and I have a month, so I'm going to India. Sorry: I'm going to India! India and Nepal, actually—four weeks in the former and a week in the latter, or something like that. Flights are already booked: DC to Mumbai on January 30; Delhi to DC on March 6. What'll happen between those dates is beautifully uncertain: I'll have a pack, and I'll have the Himalayas, and I'll the buses and the trains and the planes and the roads, and the towns and the villages and the great big cities of the Indian subcontinent. I might even have a little accompaniment.
I'm excited. I'm, like, totally excited. As with Europe, I'll be packing crazy-light, just a little messenger bag, a few changes of clothes, a camera, and a few basics. As always, I'll be writing. And as always, thanks for reading.