--The view from my office window. Who wouldn't want to go to
DON’T STOP NOW
Every New Season – Feb. 12, 2012
By Mary Koch
Just when I was finding my groove, we had “Stop Day.” Like a
lot of events at Holden Village, Stop Day is somewhat whimsical, held
every now and again. There are no written Stop Day policies, procedures
or protocol. Someone in charge simply declares that such-and-such-a-day
will be Stop Day – generally a day when only a few guests are in the
village and no special activities planned.
Everything stops. No one does any work except for bare
essentials, such as stoking the boilers that provide heat. Not even the
cooks work. The evening before Stop Day they laid out a buffet of left-overs
and we helped ourselves to a day’s worth of wonderful food to graze upon
– sandwich makings, salads, baked salmon, calzones, bagels, pork roast.
No one starves on Stop Day.
Yet I do not stop easily. For one thing, it’s taken me a long
time to feel like I’m accomplishing anything of real value here. Every
project had been stymied or delayed for a variety of reasons beyond
anyone’s control. Now I’m finally beginning to see progress. I’m
experiencing the satisfaction that comes with at least rudimentary
understanding of new computer programs, projects are coming to fruition,
and I don’t want to stop.
Stop Days are about learning how to “be,” instead of
constantly doing. I’m a long way from mastering that lesson. I have some
kind of genetic warfare going on between being and doing.
The Swedes on my father’s side were adept at simply being.
Legendary are the long, boring Sunday afternoons when my grandfather and
his friends would sit on the front porch, rocking, with mere threads of
occasional conversation. After a long silence someone would pronounce,
“Dat’s de vay she gose.” Another very long silence and someone would
The Germans on my mother’s side were doers, hustling and
bustling, living life at top speed even if it meant going in circles.
Mother once told me that her idea of heaven is a place where “there’s
lots to do and plenty of time to do it.”
I did my best to observe Stop Day. I spent the morning holed
up in my bedroom – a virtual snow cave with snow outside piled higher
than my window. I slept until after 8, lifted weights, showered, wrote a
short meditation I’d promised for Lent (writing short takes an extra
long time), snacked on my left-overs, read a light-weight mystery. By 1
p.m., I couldn’t stand it any longer. I took a two-mile walk, enjoying
the crunch of my boots on snow underfoot while above, soaring mountains
gleamed in the sun against the backdrop of a brilliant blue sky.
Walk completed, I went to my darkened office, which is usually
bustling at that time of day. I worked in the silence for three hours,
feeling only a little guilty about my workaholic compulsions.
“How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives,”
writes Annie Dillard. Maybe that’s why it’s so hard to stop.