Life’s Cruelest Contradiction

The cruelest contradiction in life is holiday constipation. I’ve gone on a lot of camping trips with my friend Dennis. Every morning without fail, he takes his little shovel and says “I’ll be back in a few minutes.” Recently, I was away for one night camping with my friend Brian, he asked me in the morning “oh, did you bring any toilet paper?” For one night, of course I hadn’t! He wasn’t even phased, “not to worry” he said, “I have other methods”, and he walked off into the green bushes. I have decided that my main ambition for 2020 is to achieve this superpower. 

I don’t understand why holiday constipation always happens for me. No matter what, day four, I can expect the realisation, ‘oh, I haven’t had a movement yet.’ It seems so cruel because I’m doing it. I’ve gone away, I’m sitting at the beach beside Lake Garda in Northern Italy, reading my book and looking at the mountains. All I have to think about is maybe I’ll have an ice-cream, or an Aperol Spritz today. Maybe even both. Of course I do immediately think twice, realising I shouldn’t spend too much in my first few days. Yes, I said I wasn’t going to worry about money on this trip, but maybe exerting some caution for day one and two is no harm. I’m here for ten whole days and I have so much time to relax and enjoy apperatifs.’

‘Wow, it’s so nice to just switch off and read. Why do I not go on holidays more. Being here, thinking of nothing but this book is exactly what I needed.’ I sit and let the thoughts float in and out of my head. ‘I have seen a lot of people with bikes, maybe there are trails around, I could look into renting a bike one day. It would be a shame not to take the opportunity.’ But obviously, I don’t put myself under any pressure and remember ‘I did say before I came that all I wanted to do for ten days was read books and have naps. It’s OK if that’s all you do too.’ But I give myself a break and say ‘Sure, just go with the flow and do what seems right. It would be nice to get some exercise. It could make the ice-cream taste better. No pressure.’

‘Ahh, nothing to do but sit here and read ‘The Fourth Hand’ by John Irving. I could observe that the main character seems to be a womaniser that we like a lot and we don’t really like any of the female characters, but I’m on holidays!’

I read another few pages and think, ‘there are so many mountains here, I should probably explore them one day. Maybe I should go and look for a map of the area in the afternoon.’

‘I can’t wait until I forget what day it is. Today is Wednesday, I knew that immediately when I woke up this morning, but I can’t wait until I start to forget what day it is. Today is only day three of the holiday, that mindframe always kicks in by day six. That’s the ultimate sign of relaxation.’

I’m on page 40 now and proud to observe the thick indent becoming apparent, the evidence of sheer enjoyment. ‘I did say all I’d do is read books but maybe I should work on some writing in the mornings. I should do some reflections, personal journaling. I could get up early, maybe about 7, that time of the morning is so peaceful. I could have a swim, maybe even a run, then have coffee and write. That would be ideal.’

Page 46. ‘But I wouldn’t really be able to write in the hostel breakfast room, it’s too noisy and the light is weird. I don’t want to go somewhere else and pay, because it’s all included here. Plus there’s so much waste at that buffet, I need to at least take my share.’

Page 48. ‘That woman is very attractive. It seems that so many people intuitively know how to look good on the beach.’

‘It will probably be lunchtime soon, I wonder what time it is. Oh ho, but that doesn’t matter. I’m just eating when I’m hungry and not checking the time. My phone is staying on airplane mode for this whole trip and I’m getting into a flow where I totally switch off. So good!’

‘I’m not really following the story in this book. Maybe I should start it again? Or choose another one. I brought so many books that I could choose.’