A gaggle of former business colleagues showed up here in wine country a few weeks ago. They were finishing up a company leadership “retreat” and spent mornings at Meadowood playing with Post-it Notes, easels and facilitators as they wrestled with visions, missions and values. Without even being there I could guess with 90 percent accuracy what they came up with. Worse, I would bet that no one will ever pay any attention to what they came up with.
The group spent the afternoons playing croquet, tasting wine from at least three wineries each afternoon, tasting olive oil, risking lives by bike riding on Silverado Trail, shopping on Main Street, getting massages, and then going out for a huge dinner before a nightcap back at the resort. Other than the mornings with Post-it Notes, the group was in a mild state of arousal the entire time. That is, until they arrived at our house.
Upon arrival one of the guys asked, “So what do you all do here?”
“We relax,” I said.
“What else?” the same guy wondered.
“Maybe that’s enough,” was my final answer. Which brings me to Thanksgiving.
Doing nothing can be a good thing and no holiday embraces that spirit more than Thanksgiving. That’s why I like it so much and many share my sentiment. Yes, there is the cooking and the cleaning but to me, the most taxing activity over Thanksgiving should be deciding between snacking, reading or napping. In fact, that sense of doing nothing is one of the greatest beckoning calls to wine country and we should pay more attention to that call.
Wine country living is not a contest to see who can visit the most wineries or squeeze in the most activities. At least for me it is not a contest I want to win. Yes, we should drink wine and eat and explore but we shouldn’t rush. And we shouldn’t feel guilty about doing nothing. For me, doing nothing includes looking at the gopher mounds and not getting on my hands and knees to set a trap; it includes looking at the spider webs in the barn and not dealing with them; it includes looking at the gutters full of leaves and hoping it won’t rain; it includes a slow hike to the dry creeks and hoping it will rain; and, it involves sitting at the table with the family and chatting about not much instead of chopping wood. And that is always what happens at Thanksgiving – nothing.
But nothing may not really be nothing. Nothing can renew relationships and provide for some rest that you will never get when you are not doing nothing. Down-time does not need to be full of self-improvement activities or learning to play the oboe or running a marathon. That is not doing nothing, that is doing something with all the stress and costs associated with that something.
The reason why people lust after the lifestyle of wine country is because there is always a hint of relaxing by doing nothing other than a walk in a vineyard and enjoying a great dinner served with great wine. Just look over the landscape and it can be relaxing.
A truly relaxing day is one in which we are not faced with any decisions and don’t have to respond to the barrage of pings and pangs we get every day. At Thanksgiving the only decisions we have to make is whether or not to go back for a second helping or pumpkin pie. And those who we hope will text us are probably sitting next to us at the same table.
Wine country has many appeals but the one with the most allure might be the prospect of breaking away and doing nothing. Enjoy Thanksgiving.
Rich Moran enjoys the joys of nothingness as much as he can.