These past weeks have been a rush of busy-ness. Fall on the mountain always feels fleeting, with glorious pockets of gold aspens one week and new snow the next. Each year, I’m surprised at the suddenness in the change of season. There’s an urgency in the air as I try to take in one last dinner on the deck, one last long hike in the high country, all the while getting and stacking wood and pulling pots in when the nights—and days—grow too cold.
I have only to look at the fact that I haven’t written a blog to know my days have burned like a barn on fire with deadlines and midterms, an extra night class I taught for four weeks, a story I’ve been revising and the dozen or so movies I’ve been screening weekly, along with the laundry list of “Things To Do” I carry with me on folded pieces of paper and posted on sticky notes on my desk top. I’ll confess I revel in getting things done, in marking each item off: I find way too much satisfaction in my nimble ability to juggle more than the average human, in my rockstar ability to go and go and go.
But this habit of mine always ends badly. I’m too tired and too busy for Greg and my friends. Inevitably, I wake up one morning cranky and exhausted, mystified that despite yoga and meditation and walks with the dog, I feel so out of sorts. Until I start looking at all the stuff I’ve been doing and the ways I’ve neatly isolated myself in a hell of my own making.
I wish I could learn to play and lounge as aggressively as I rip through the tasks of each day.
Enter the first snow storm of the season. After a week of daily dustings on the mountain, last Sunday dawned with half a foot of snow on the ground and more falling. Greg, taking one for the team, drove to Nederland, the nearest metropolis to our mountain house, to buy the Sunday New York Times, while I made breakfast and a fire. Then we spent the rest of the morning on the couch with cups of coffee, reading and listening to Beethoven. The afternoon was just as idly spent as we hunkered beneath a thick down comforter and watched Harry Potter and King Lear and The Romanovs.
It was just what I needed.
More frequently than I care to admit, I must remind myself that my one goal is to live deeply. Mountain girl me should know by now that fast isn’t the speed of happiness. The Sunday snow, as weather does, gave me permission to stop. To rest. And to reconnect.
Living deeply means remembering to take my cue from the natural world and to listen to it. D.H. Lawrence once lamented that humans “are bleeding at the roots [,…] cut off from the earth and sun and stars.” It’s our disconnection from the seasons, from the earth, from each other that causes misery and dis-ease, that causes us to run faster toward the things that won’t ever make us happy.
We must learn to press pause.
As I write, I can see the newly bare aspens outside my window and 30-foot fir trees that extend well above the window frame. I imagine their roots in the earth and then I imagine mine. The thought gives me a long moment of peace.