Roger Marolt: Taking care of business when town is closed for the season
You have to admit there is a certain irony about a group of angry parents showing up to a school board meeting to complain about bullying on campus based on political beliefs by, in turn, adamantly labeling the administration and staff “socialists” and “hypocrites.”
But, who can blame them? There is nothing else to do these milquetoast months.
I mean this most sincerely. Not the irony of a fall morning wasted on tracing circles of spurious argument on a flip chart of thin air, but the fact that anyone, much less a group, can so easily find the time to stage such an impotent coup. There really is nothing else to do.
It’s a sweet spot in the year. Sure, I miss long, warm days full of all kinds of activities. Summer is great and we know it’s great, requiring no other proof other than it goes by too fast. It’s so great, in fact that it is easy to get to this late October period and feel kind of let down.
Now is the season of bland brown for sure — except for the part about putting an extra layer of insulation on by, perhaps, filling the Halloween candy basket early and often — and nobody likes getting used to the cold again. But the wary don’t waste time lamenting the pointless shift from daylight savings time. This time of year will be gone in a blink, too, and we will be sad about it.
We don’t have to go on hikes. We don’t have to ride our bikes. We don’t have to load up the car and head to the ski hills. This is our time not to shine. We can sit cozily at home and watch sports like the rest of the nation and feel patriotic over the symbolic connection.
The things we do around here while everyone is watching are guilty pleasures to a large degree. It is not uncommon to feel guilty if we do not partake in them. “What did you do this weekend?” is the local Monday morning exhale that is more accusatory than curious. When confronted with this weekly inquisition, you better be prepared to answer with a list of laudable accomplishments or face the awful, unmistakable silence of derision for wasting precious time on things that don’t lend themselves naturally to wearing Lycra, or other variations of moisture-wicking fabrics.
There are more times in January than not when, before coffee, I groan at the thought of buckling up my ski boots. There are times in the summer as I momentarily relax on the couch when I feel sympathetic pains in my behind over the idea of jumping on my mountain bike and heading out on a single track trail of which my motivation to follow leads me right back to where I am ruminating in this moment of doubt. As with everything in life, there is an inertia that compounds itself each time you repeat an activity in approximately the same manner you have before. It doesn’t decrease the pleasure you get out of the contemplated act, it just makes it harder to get started. It is the thing that history’s young have never believed and its wise have never doubted. It is the explanation for foreplay, fat skis and e-bikes.
It’s no wonder that we relax into all that this season doesn’t have to offer. Hand me a leaf blower and a set of earplugs that turn its whine into pleasant gray noise as I raise the golden blanket on my yard and watch it settle where I direct it. I can get outside for some fresh air and sunshine without worrying about the premature aging of my skin under blistering UVA rays or searing my lungs for 30 minutes to get to the crest of a trail under the pretense that I have to. Let me enjoy putting away the patio furniture to preserve it in good condition so that I can set it out again next summer and hardly use it again because I am so busy. The thought of it is enough to justify a hasty completion of the task followed by a quick retreat back to the tube and a baseball playoff game.
Autumn is about staying busy by convincing yourself that you are not. Make no lists. Discuss no plans. Do what you have to do to get back to doing nothing as quickly as possible.
The formula is simple. The execution is second nature. The fall is short. The landing is soft. Let the nightfall descending upon you two minutes earlier than the day before pull you into this dream all the more quickly.
Roger Marolt knows that loving to work at nothing all day is taking care of business. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.