The Wisdom of a Snow Day

Last week I had a snow day – not the kind of snow day in which I decide it’s too risky to drive to work and take a personal day, but a storm so significant that the Governor ordered us not to report to work. In my memory, there have been a few snowy days on which we were permitted to leave an hour or two early, but a true snow day? This was a first for me. When I found out, my first reaction was that it was a hoax. (I think all this fake news has left me jaded.) When I realized it was true, I remembered that sense of childhood joy a snow day brought.

Today we woke up to a revolution of snow,   

its white flag waving over everything,

the landscape vanished,

not a single mouse to punctuate the blankness,   

and beyond these windows

the government buildings smothered,

schools and libraries buried, the post office lost   

under the noiseless drift,

the paths of trains softly blocked,

the world fallen under this falling…

Excerpt from Snow Day, by Billy Collins

Of course the first couple hours of the day involved snowblowing (Jeff) and shoveling (me), followed by repeatedly falling backward into the deep fluffy snow because it was getting Rio so excited. She enjoys the snow when it’s not too deep, but this was a bit much for her. She mostly kept to the deck and the “bathroom” I’d shoveled for her, but seeing me almost disappear into the snow brought her bounding out to me to make sure I was okay.

Jeff lit a fire. I made a pot of tea and read and played piano and worked on holiday gifts. The found time was a beautiful gift, and an opportunity to be creative. We cooked with what we had on hand. What we had was enough. Home seemed even cozier than usual. A little later when the roads were relatively clear, Rio and I went for a walk.

In a while, I will put on some boots

and step out like someone walking in water,   

and the dog will porpoise through the drifts,   

and I will shake a laden branch

sending a cold shower down on us both.

But for now I am a willing prisoner in this house,   

a sympathizer with the anarchic cause of snow.   

I will make a pot of tea

and listen to the plastic radio on the counter,   

as glad as anyone to hear the news

Excerpt from Snow Day, by Billy Collins

I spoke with colleagues and friends about their reactions to and experiences during the snow day, and most had similar responses.

“Oh, it was amazing!”

“I wrapped Christmas presents, which I love!”

“I baked.”

“I knitted.”

Had I needed to take a personal day, I would’ve felt guilty. I would’ve felt compelled to check email. I wouldn’t have been so fully able to relax into what felt like nature simply pressing pause on everything. We spend so much time trying to control our lives – the snowstorm was a reminder that ultimately, we’re not in charge at all. It was a welcome reprieve from normal responsibilities, routines, and busyness – a reminder to stop, be present, and go slow.

I’m grateful for this experience – not just for the added time, but for the reprieve from everything it offered – the ability to fully experience the day without the weight of responsibility. It’s led me to consider why that weight even exists, and how I can shift my thinking to lessen it even when it’s not a snow day.

How can we invite the magic of a snow day into our lives more often?

Image credit: Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

#fullymyself #snowday #billycollins #mindfulness

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