December Reflections: On 2019

When was the last time you made a snowman?

Growing up in Minnesota, I remember the insides of my boot liners and gloves becoming packed tight with snow as my sister and I trudged through the yard creating the bottom, middle, and heads of our snowmen. After garnishing them with carrot noses, we’d finally head back inside to warm up and drink some cocoa, dropping clumps of snow all the way from the front door to the old Fisher wood stove in our living room, next to which we hung up our jackets, snowpants, hats, gloves, and scarves to dry. Dad wasn’t particularly thrilled about the puddles we’d leave behind.

In our hyperconnected, always-on world, the idea of building a snowman may sound a bit quaint. We are under so much pressure — from ourselves, our jobs, society — not to “waste time,” the idea of spending an hour or two creating something that will just melt away might feel indulgent. But to me, building a snowman is a wonderful example of doing nothing while doing something. At Getaway, we talk a lot about doing nothing. We think that there is value in re-claiming some “unproductive time” where we are not striving, optimizing, or achieving. And for some people, “doing nothing” can be a literal phrase — those of you who can meditate well or who have spent time at a zen monastery know this form of doing nothing. If you’re like me, you may have to do a little bit of something in order to do nothing, at least at first. Taking a long walk in a park, bird watching, or diving into a beach read may be the way you find enough stimulus to ward of the anxiety of boredom while reorienting from the stress of everyday life. You may even find that working up a sweat pushing snow around to make a man (or woman!) out of the winter’s bounty frees the mind to wander and for new feelings or ideas to come to the fore.

Spring is, of course, not a great time to be a snowman. In northern Minnesota it was usually around April or even May that we picked the floppy old hat and scarf off the now-brown lawn and stored them back in the closet for next year’s creation. But herein lies another lesson of the snowman, at least for me: not that much we do lasts, and that’s important to keep in mind. Our work, our projects, our careers, even some relationships someday meet their spring, and melt away. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t invest in those things — we can get a lot of joy and growth out of things that are ultimately ephemeral. But in remembering that there is always another season around the corner we can be mindful of the ultimate importance of things — that this too shall pass.

In this season of gratitude I’d not want to close without expressing thankfulness for our team for doing the hard work of expansion from three to nine Outposts this year, and to our many guests — both those who tried Getaway for the first time, and to those who have made a habit of returning frequently to nature to reflect and recharge.

And finally, I’m excited to let you know that we’ll be releasing season two of our podcast in January. Thankfully, you can expect a lot less of me and many more stories from people who are thinking about all of the things we care about: finding balance, being mindful, experiencing nature, and taking care of ourselves.

Until 2020,

Jon

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