Grandma Gertie always said there's not a savory dish that can't be made tastier by just a touch of tarragon.

Tsunami and Me

Tsunami and Me
too big to escape now....

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Hibernating Through the Holidays

I've always claimed I couldn't understand the concept of a "staycation." Whenever my late husband would suggest I just kick back and watch reruns of "Gunsmoke" all day with him, I'd laugh and scurry off to clean out a kitchen drawer or to open the laptop to check call outs for submissions or I'd bound upstairs to change the bedding.

Vegging out at home has never been a possibility with me. There's a residual inner voice--is that you, Grandma?...scolding away. But last month I caught a cold...and it seemed as if it were going to stay with me for the rest of my life. After three weeks the sniffling finally ceased. I'd never had a cold last so long. Then I realized that my resistance probably was next to nil. I'd rushed through this year, editing, writing, paying homage to Charles Dickens in his bicentennial year, promoting this, that and the other with community service, and feeling guilty because I'd let the gardens go to weed.

Then I came across this passage by John Steinbeck, in The Log from the Sea of Cortez: 

John Steinbeck
“It was a good thing, we told ourselves; the eyes grow weary with looking at new things; sleeping late, we said, has its genuine therapeutic value; we would be better for it, would be able to work more effectively. We have little doubt that all this was true, but we wish we could build as good a rationalization every time we are lazy. For in some beastly way this fine laziness has got itself a bad name. It is easy to see how it might have come into disrepute, if the result of laziness were hunger. But it rarely is. Hunger makes laziness impossible. It has even become sinful to be lazy. We wonder why. One could argue, particularly if one had a gift for laziness, that it is relaxation pregnant of activity, a sense of rest from which directed effort may arise, whereas most busy-ness is merely a kind of nervous tic.
How can such a process have become a shame and a sin? Only in laziness can one achieve a state of contemplation which is a balancing of values, a weighing of oneself against the world and the world against itself. A busy man cannot find time for such balancing. We do not think a lazy man can commit murders, nor great thefts, nor lead a mob. He would be more likely to think about it and laugh. And a nation of lazy contemplative men would be incapable of fighting a war unless their very laziness were attacked. Wars are the activities of busy-ness.”

I decided Steinbeck was right on the money. I didn't need to commit a murder nor lead a mob. I needed to rest, to commune with myself. I needed time alone...not to write, but to replenish my empty coffers. Here it was nearly Thanksgiving, and I'd run out of energy, out of enthusiasm, and out of eggs. I could remedy the latter with a quick trip to the supermarket, and while there, I could stock up on necessities and just hunker down. I didn't need to fly to relatives this Thanksgiving. Instead, I could send warmest wishes, and spend my holiday week...yes, a full seven-day week!...reading, watching videos, going to movies, playing with the dogs, napping, eating and reading some more.

So for this entire past week I didn't open the laptop, where I do the writing and editing and work for the organizations I volunteer with. I checked email and Facebook and my daily news feeds on the computer in the living room, even taking time to play a few rounds of Spider. If it were noon and I felt drowsy, I napped on the sofa. If it were midnight and I awoke, I'd read until 3:30 without worrying about getting up and to work at the laptop by 8 a.m.

What a wonderful way to refuel. What a treat...and it cost me nothing, really, compared with what a trip someplace would have cost. Yes, I did miss visits with my granddaughter in Arizona or my family and friends in California. But we'll meet again. They all know I love them.

In the meantime I've learned to assign some value to indolence. And here's the payoff: my old energy and enthusiasm have there's still over a dozen eggs left in the bottom of the fridge. And plenty of time to make a mid-morning omelet before I open that laptop in a few minutes and get back to work.

This Thanksgiving I've been grateful for so much...including the everlasting wisdom of John Steinbeck!

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