season-surrender

The snow, falling in huge flakes, is mesmerizing. It just keeps coming out of the sky, five feet in the last two weeks, but I cannot tear my eyes away.  Today there is another storm, buckets of the stuff racing to earth, like it’s been shot out of a confetti cannon – really beautiful but a little alarming, a little frenetic.

wpid-img_20150209_112435553.jpgToday there is a snow emergency, schools and businesses closed, plows and snowblowers failing hilariously to keep up with the frozen deluge. Trolley-trains are stuck on the tracks. The revelers who came out to play in the last two blizzards have had their fill of wet, cold, and wind, and the streets are quiet, bare. All the shapes of things become muted by the draped thick, still blanket; all the tracks of vehicles and people quickly fill in again – the ground’s self-healing armor. Soon enough, the city will just be coated in dirty sludge again, but as long as the snow still falls, it is absolutely, achingly white and flat, a perfect fondant. As long as the snow still falls, this third storm in two weeks demands and finally receives our resigned surrender. Today at least is nature’s day.

Today, cozily buried yet again, it is not hard for me to be gracious to myself when my body and mind are sluggish, inclined to hibernate. With nowhere to be, it is not hard to let my work proceed apace without rush and worry. If I watch the snow fall long enough, it is not hard to lose the need to distract myself with the blinking lights of my phone. The sleepy slowness and the eventual hunkered-down working, the brilliant piled-white beauty and even tomorrow’s brown slush-piles are neither good nor bad, not really. They are here now, and they will change in time. They are facts of life belonging to winter-time; they’re not meant to be compared to other seasons.

More than a few of my friends have said that the word “season” is their least favorite bit of disingenuous Christianese, dripping with the false piety of using a Bible word where a regular phrase will do. I agree with them, in the sense that we’ve overused the word at the expense of the metaphor. Yet in its place, it is a rich and deep and kind reminder that we can neither slow nor speed the turning of the earth.

I have come to admit that I am an impressionable person, easily and even willingly swayed by the moods of people and things around me – including the respective seasons of earth, school, and church years. But culture and personality also manifest a contradictory impulse to resist and overcome the natural swayings of things – to get up early when the sun does not, to work ahead when it’s supposed to be spring break. It leaves me with the feeling I am perpetually behind or failing somehow, a feeling of inferiority I have learned nearly all academics share. What a mad way to live. I wonder now if even my semiannual determination to Figure Out finals and Conquer Anxiety isn’t a little silly; maybe it would serve better to let anxiety have its day, humming along in the background for its bit before summer break’s own sigh of relief.

Those times are coming with their own adrenaline rushes, ecstatic joys and recurring irritations. Today I will be content with this season’s snow-boot challenges and its unparalleled stillnesses. Midafternoon seems like a good time to resume work on a research paper, to begin piling up drifts of words as steadily as the snow falls.

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