Those were times of amazing creativity and inspiration. There's something about the isolation that triggers all this mental and emotional energy. I'd write songs, poems, stories, sketches -- all kinds of things in my head. And at night put them to paper. Actual paper, with an actual pen.
Then came cell phones and laptops and e-mail. I remember the first big trip I did in the cell phone era. It wasn't the same. There I was, checking in, reporting my thoughts as they came to me, concluding each day with an oral report. And later on, checking e-mail at the Internet cafes, and keeping up with the news online. It just didn't feel like I was away. Really away.
It was like trying to carry water with a bucket that has a hole in it. Nothing is saved, nothing is contained -- it all just goes pouring out -- out into the ether. Into nothingness.
Nevertheless, I'm taking the laptop to Mexico, where I can check the e-mail and the message boards and the Facebook, and do status updates and download photos and create slideshows and keep up with the news, etc. It's ridiculous -- I'll have my laptop and its power cord, and the digital camera and its USB cable and its spare battery and battery charger and the iPod and its charging cord and the cell phone and its charger and ... ridiculous indeed.
I'm going to try, really try to keep away from the computer, to use it in moderation, and actually read some books, like 1491 and Born Standing Up and The Road (yeah, I know, nice beach reading there) and maybe some Sedaris. And maybe, just maybe, feel again like I really, really am truly AWAY. Away like you felt in the Olden Times.