Today was an unexpected snow day. Snow rarely comes before Thanksgiving in this area. The precipitation was actually a wintry mix, about 3 inches of it. It will not stay; by tomorrow it should be washed away by rain, but it was enough for a snow day to be called and to make it difficult to free up the car and drive. Altogether, this snow day was a welcome interlude, allowing time to go slowly for awhile and to let accomplishments that were not personal items slide. I am happy the snow day was there.
Snow days can be a mixed blessing, often depending largely on how they are perceived. For me, this day was one to let go and relax for a little while, but there are other responses, which both I and others sometimes take. A snow day can, for example, be a time of distress because work which must be finished by deadline is left undone, hopefully with a deadline extended. It can present itself as a supposedly “free” day to quickly accomplish all the second priority tasks for which there are rarely time slots in the regular workweek. For one who has a lot of second priority tasks, second only because it is difficult to bilocate and do two things in two locations at the same time, a snow day does not feel anything like a free day. Sometimes a snow day presents a true emergency, such as a child about to be born during the storm. Sometimes it is a day of guilt, for having relaxed when there are so many things to get done. It depends, but mostly it depends on the perception of the person experiencing the snow day. Yes, the situations are there, and the reactions to them can be both positive and negative.
One can perceive the missed deadline to be a failure or perceive it as a blessing because the delay gave time for improvement of the task, or for making small corrections which have had time to reveal themselves. One can rejoice that some of the second priority tasks have finally received the attention needed. The child will arrive; one can be grateful for the child and for the help that others may have given for the birth. One can choose to be guilty, or grateful for a moment of relaxation. The situations all remain. The solutions may be affected by the attitudes of the people within the situations, but the people themselves can choose to be happy, grateful, frustrated, relaxed, angry, guilty, worried or however they choose to react.
Sometimes it can be difficult to realize that there is a choice. When work has piled up and one chooses to use it as a relaxation or play day, it can be difficult to not make the choice to feel guilty about it. “After all,” one may think,” it was my choice to not do all the things that needed doing, and I cannot blame the snow for their not being done. It is my fault.” At that thought, the guilt begins. The “monkey mind” that can be a detriment to meditation is very facile at bringing up this kind of thought. Similarly, if one is energized by snow and uses the opportunity to do the many things at home that have until now been left on the undone list, one can feel angry at not having the chance to have done all those things before, and at not having a truly “free” day. Conversely, that same person can simply pause at the end of the day and enjoy the newly created order, giving thanks for the time given to accomplish it. Hard as it is to realize, and often even harder to do, there is a choice.
A snow day is a respite; it does not last forever. Tomorrow comes, and the normal order re-establishes itself. If we have been lucky, or wise, as the case may be, we have been satisfied by that brief change, and are better able to engage the morrow. Children know this instinctively, and most look forward to and back upon their snow days with pleasure. Psychologists, philosophers, prophets and poets from past to present urge people to stay in touch with the children they once were. Snow days are a wonderful time to do that.
May we all have the grace to pause and recapture our capacity to enjoy. I do believe that is one key to our survival in a chaotic world, and one key to growing into a truly contributing and fulfilled adult.
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