It occurred to me today while walking across my neighborhood to make an appointment. I know why I love snow, and why I feel a particular sense of warmth following massive snowfall. (If you don’t know, a blizzard blew through Chicago over the weekend.)
Snow requires that we all slow down. It forces society to take it easy. There’s something brutal about it, actually: actions we take for granted, like driving or walking, become questions of serious harm. Slow down or face damages. Make too much haste and it’s possible to slide to your doom.
The best way to deal with the foot of snow covering our city—in some places it is as much as 17 inches (over 43 centimeters)—is to be patient with it. Snow does not interpret anger any more than it senses our indifference. You move one shovelful at a time, and you have to keep your feet, find the right leverage. There’s no way around the snow. You can step through it, but you won’t get very far if you make haste.
You’re better off taking public transportation. In fact, people on my entire side of the block can hardly get out of their garages; even if they could, they wouldn’t make it very far down the alley without getting stuck. Is there anywhere we must go? Really? Where? Stay home to read or write.
“I can’t afford this snow,” people say. “I have to be somewhere at 6:00.” “I can’t deal with this snow,” another will whine. “It’s keeping me from doing what I want to do.”
Yeah, but all you want to do is hurry. A good weekend of snow reminds us that our desire for haste is not a need. We actually can get by perfectly well without any haste at all. The step we’re taking is still being taken in the snow, only we step more mindfully, hoping not to slip, caring for ourselves.