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Roger Marolt: There really are cheeseburgers in paradise

Roger Marolt
Cluster Phobic
Roger Marolt for the Snowmass Sun
Kelsey Brunner/Snowmass Sun

The tips of tree branches appear like they have been dipped in pastel green watercolor paint and it’s not even Mother’s Day.

I am joyful for the beauty, thankful for the hope and simply exposed-in-place for a moment that would have seemed too long and maybe even wasteful in busier times. I might have blamed the springtime event coming this early on global warming, if it had happened last year. Now, in this spring of our growing discontent, I allow myself to be only amazed at nature’s gift. A small step for it to take, sure, but a gigantic emotional leap for a cooped-up villager. The further I gaze the more I know this is true.

I am sleeping soundly and dreaming vividly these nights. It is not a lingering effect of having contracted COVID-19. I am one of the few, it seems, who does not believe that I have had an asymptomatic case of the disease. It’s not uncommon to hear it: “I think I probably had it back in November. Have you read the news that this thing has been around a lot longer than we thought? I ate a dill pickle. I don’t even like dill pickles. Anyway, it actually tasted good. See? My tastebuds were compromised. It’s a symptom, you know. Thinking back, I was clearing my throat a lot, too. I honestly might have been the first victim in Pitkin County.”

A severe limitation on outside stimulation has us imagining 15 minutes of fame. Enough of these strung together can theoretically fill a day.

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I am finding that working from home has a few advantages over going to the office every day. One of them is not a renewed sense of how important my job is. The thing about getting up every morning, hurrying through breakfast, battling rush hour, dealing with parking, finding a way to squeeze in lunch, and then unwinding the whole process plus picking up a few things at the market on the way home made me feel like the survival of the planet basically depended on me going to work. How else could I justify the effort demanded by the daily grind?

Waking up, grabbing a cup of joe and stumbling down to the basement in my sweats to get after it has put what I do for a living into high-definition: It’s work. It is but one means of taking care of my family. I have a purpose and that purpose is not to have this dominate my life, be it in the middle of the day or lying awake at night worrying about getting it all done.

The craziest thing is that I think I enjoy my job more now than ever, looking at it all shiny under this new light. I feel like I am more focused and less distracted with glancing sideways at every possible opportunity knowing that the rest of my existence is waiting for me when I finish. I’m super productive. The quality of my work is better, I think. I am more thankful for the opportunity I was given to be an accountant; go ahead and ask me if I ever thought I would utter those words when I was 18. Life has a funny way of kicking us in the pants with its toe painfully landing in the spot with the most padding.

There will always be suffering in the world. I believe it is as important to recognize this as it is to occasionally, for our sanity, take our minds off of it to acknowledge beauty in the simplicity of unavoidably being human. I don’t think it is necessarily best to do this by habitually trying to distract ourselves with this, that and the other things that present themselves as ripe apples, sweet and juicy, always within reach. When we ignore the worms we eventually end up eating one.

I am learning the best way to forget for awhile is to see and believe that, no matter how bad things appear, no matter how dark it gets in the middle of some days when there seems to be no end to the suffering in the world, there is happiness and beauty, too. The absolute truth is that there is more joy in this life than misery. Lots more. It is the imbalance that sustains. We must admit this every day. There is an opportunity in this pandemic to every now and then indulge in a $10 take-out cheeseburger from the Viceroy.

Roger Marolt feels like springtime is a great ally when it comes to pulling perspective out of a rabbit hole. Email him at roger@maroltllp.com.


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