I’m sick of snow. The snow here is forever. At first, it’s beautiful, the brilliant whiteness creating Rockwellian images of trees and buildings covered in vanilla icing. But the beauty begins to fade after the third or fourth snow storm, when the snow banks grow into hills and the streets shrink into one lane passages rutted with ice holes.
With each snowfall, a sense of defeat spreads through the vitamin 3-robbed population, depleting our energy and ruining our backs from having to lift our shovels higher and higher.
And there’s nothing to smell but the cold as the unrelenting snow suffocates the scent, color and texture of life, transforming the world into a sensual void, a…
“So, Biff,” said the fox, “getting tired of winter? I seem to recall you in an earlier blog saying …winter, I love you.”
“I want to wear t-shirts,” I said.
“That was your first trip out on your snow shoes, remember?” said the fox.
“I want to wear sandals and shorts,” I said.
“You took pictures of snow covered trees,” said the fox. “It was beautiful in the woods…with all that snow.”
“I want to walk barefoot along a beach…feel water lapping at my feet,” I said.
“You read a poem to the woods…to thank the snow covered woods for all the beauty,” said the fox.
“I want to lie in the grass and watch clouds drift into shapes in the sky,” I said.
“Winter! I love you! you said,” said the fox.
“That was a thousand years ago, fox,” I said.
“Sounds like as long as this search for peace of yours is going to last, Biff,” said the fox.
“Then maybe we should get back on it,” I said. “Shave a few hundred years off the search.”
“No more talk of winter blues, vitamin D deficiency, suffocation?” said the fox.
“I’ll be in Cuba in a couple of weeks,” I said. “I’ll just keep that happy thought in mind.”
“OK then, Biff,” said the fox. “Where should be look for peace today? Maybe somewhere exotic? Somewhere warm and sunny, with beaches and Pina Coladas?”
“Maybe somewhere that doesn’t let foxes in,” I said.
“Maybe some place where they show a little more respect for foxes,” said the fox.
A friend recently shared a post on Facebook. It went like this: The most dangerous phrase in the language is we’ve always done it this way.
I agree. It gets back to that whole matter of change and how we fear it. We get into cultural ruts. Political stasis. Religious inflexibility. We want to know what we’ve always known…and nothing else. We want to keep doing the same thing day after day, for the rest of our lives. And we want everyone around us to do the same thing…our way. Without change. Without growth. Like putting adaptation and evolution on hold.
We’ve always done it this way.
How many species of animals have perished because they always did it this way? How many empires have crumbled because they always did it this way?
We live in a world of change populated by a dominant species that refuses to change. We create borders to define our sameness and propagate that sameness with advice like: this is the way my parents did it, and their parents and their parents’ parents. We splinter faiths to create intolerant cults that are more political than spiritual and bind the believers into dogmas that will always be done this way…deep into generation after generation.
We’ve always done it this way excludes a better way. We’ve always done it this way dries the well of self-expression. We’ve always done it this way ignores the simple truth that will be the only thing to save our collective ass: maybe we should try something else.
“Like what, Biff?” said the fox.
“I don’t know, fox,” I said. “Just about anything other than what we’re doing to ourselves now. Maybe…get out of bed on the other side. Brush our teeth with the other hand. Say yes instead of no. Smile at someone we’d rather frown at because we don’t approve of their lifestyle, religion, political leanings, sexual orientation, clothing, hair style…you name it.”
“Grin?” said the fox.
“Please don’t grin, fox,” I said.
“Hey, Biff,” said the fox. “Look at me and smile.”
“I know you’re grinning, fox,” I said. “I’m not looking.
“ C’mon, Biff, try something else,” said the fox.
“I’m not looking,” I said.
“Be the proof of your own convictions, Biff,” said the fox. “Walk the talk.”
I looked at the fox. It was awful. All sharp teeth and twisted mouth. Foxes weren’t meant to smile.But I smiled anyway.
“Now, that wasn’t so hard, was it, Biff?” said the fox.
But it was. One of the hardest things I’d ever done. Trying something else is hard. It goes against our grain. Like ritual is hardwired into our genes.
“But some people do change, Biff,” said the fox. “And it isn’t hard for them.”
“Reading my thoughts again, fox,” I said.
“Hey, Biff…if you weren’t such an open book,” said the fox. “But think about it…some people do change…they never say we’ve always done it this way. The say how can we do this better?
“But their numbers are small, fox,” I said. “So small.”
“Hey, Biff,” said the fox. “How big is an acorn?”
“This some kind of game, fox?” I said.
“How big?” said the fox.
“Not big, fox” I said. “Not big at all.”
“And what does it turn into?” said the fox.
I thought about this for a moment, knowing that I should have gotten it right away, knowing it was something I’d heard so many times…knowing I’d forgotten this simple truth.
It made me smile at the grinning fox.
(To be continued. With acorns.)
“So, Biff,” said the fox. “Whatcha going to do in Cuba?”
“Sit on the beach with my daughter and drink pina coladas,” I said.
“Away from the snow?” said the fox.
“Away from the snow.”
(BTW…these snow dune pics were taken today, just outside Fredericton. For all of you poor souls without snow…feel free to come here and take away as much as you want.)