Zen and the Art of Snow Removal

I made the decision to get all Zen on Winter’s ass.

In case you’re on your return trip from Mars and missed a few newscasts, Boston is enjoying (sarcasm) one of its snowiest winters in the history of the goddamn city. Said goddamn city founded in 1630, which is, like, wicked old, so you do the weather math. We were pummeled by a blizzard; we got dumped on by a nor’easter days later; we had a half-day snow “event” a day after that; and we are now in the midst of a new, completely awesome (sarcasm) weather pattern that dropped another foot of snow on us two days ago with a chance for more snow heading on the way this weekend.

Photo ©SMoeschen
Photo ©SMoeschen

It’s safe to say that tempers are quickening.

It’s safe to say snow fatigue is setting in.

It’s safe to say there are parents out there seriously considering selling organs on the black market in order to pay for their kids to go to boarding school in Maui, preventing any further educational stunting and giving themselves a break from family snow day fun time (sarcasm).

This storm derailed my weekend plans, forcing me back from a few days in Vermont earlier than expected. I was grumpy. I had been looking forward to this getaway for weeks. I really had no say in the matter. This is one of my least favorite things about being a grown-up.

You can’t control the weather, people glibly remark, flinging snow on top of banks that are one, full NBA basketball player high. No shit and to that I add, what the hell can you control really?

I chew this over on the 3-hour drive home from Vermont. It makes my neck itch, a terrible reality rash. What the hell can you control really? This is not rhetorical, I decide.

And that’s when I feel something that falls between surrender and a cosmic shrug. It’s like when you’re nine and realize you love ice cream and fried dough too much to ever be a ballerina or Olympic swimmer. I aim my car carefully between the two monumental snow banks flanking my driveway (I’m tempted to carve them into lions like the ones guarding the New York Public Library) and kill the engine thinking, I can lean into this Winter. I can embrace what is in front of me and stop fighting it. I can learn to just BE with the snow.

And then we got another 12 inches of the powder as predicted.

And then when I was shoveling, a plow breezed through and let loose a fantastic spray of snow all over me where I stood. He must have seen my crumpled face because he backed up and apologized. Silver lining (not sarcasm).

And then the next morning, maybe same said plow, though we will give him the benefit of the doubt, had pushed all the icy, chunky, thick mass of street snow into a bank making the corner of our sidewalk completely impassable. This, I am pretty sure, is what parts of the Everest summit must look like.

And then a mysterious leak above our kitchen cabinets worsened, the ceiling flaking off like pustules. The source of the leak determined to be a mighty ice dam creeping from the roof down the side of our house.

And then I thought: Fuck this Zen bullshit.

That felt pretty satisfying, for about a nanosecond. But I realized quickly that I’m still not anywhere closer to being in that driver’s seat whether I’m one with the ice crystals or shaking my fist at the snow STILL falling from the sky (BTW: fist can’t be seen anyway over the towering banks).

This winter is testing my control issues and it is winning. I know I am not alone in this, but it doesn’t make walking the icy road to higher understanding any easier. But that’s likely the point of all this, isn’t it? We try, we struggle, we win, we get new struggles, new things to try, we skid, we fall, we fail, we try some more. It never ends, much like this weather pattern apparently. There is only the constant rhythm of the conscious world we know, always humming along with its own machinery that sometimes we’re privy to, but many times we’re not.

I suit up and go outside to shovel…again. I sense that this isn’t a tidy “either/or” situation. I can’t stand in the slush and nurse my bitterness, but I can’t slap on a plastic smile in complete bliss either. I can only listen in and try to hear what the hushed, white world has to say.

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