In lieu of a close friend’s personal tragedy, I feel a distinct need to remind my readers of something that is too often said in various ways, but very rarely meant with any genuine feeling: Appreciate the little things in your life. Those things that make up your waking hours, which seem to fade into the background like so much white noise. Cherish the places that seem like they will never change and the people who seem like they will always be there.
Consider the snow that has recently fallen across nearly all of the United States. For now, it is here. It seems inevitable and unending. A soft blanket of shivery whiteness. It’s likely that you (and most of your friends, family, colleges, random strangers you are linked to on Facebook) have been complaining about this snowfall since before it even began. You lament the inches that have heaped themselves upon the ground, how cold it is, how difficult it will be to get to work, how you hope work will be canceled.
I imagine that very few of you, however, have stopped to appreciate the sparkle of the sun on the snow. The way it clings like thick, sugary icing to the trees outside. Have you seen the tiny foot prints of birds scattered across the top crust? How about the minuscule rivulets of melting snow that run past your feet as you cross the parking lot? Can you smell it, fresh and clean and cold? Do you listen to the soft crunch of ice underfoot? Did you bother to taste the falling snowflakes?
No, probably not.
Most people don’t give something as mundane as snow more than fleeting consideration. It’s going to snow again this Winter. It’ll snow again next year. And the year after that. It’s never going to stop snowing. It’s just a regular part of life. Nothing special.
What if I told you that this was the last snowfall. After this snow melts, it will never snow again. Why? Who cares. It doesn’t matter why. All that matters is that you’ll never get to experience snow again. At first you probably won’t believe me. Eventually you may become angry. At some point you’ll come to peace with it, but that doesn’t mean that you’ll ever truly be okay with it. You’ll think back on the times when, as a child, you went sledding with friends. Had snow ball fights. Built a snowman with your siblings. You’ll think on that time you nearly lost your toes to frostbite with fondness.
Because even memories that caused you pain at the time can be looked back on with a new appreciation.
This loss will change your life in ways you never could have expected. You could still drink hot chocolate, but it won’t be the same. You can wear a coat, but it won’t seem appropriate. You’ll soon forget the point of gloves and snow shovels. You’ll probably even miss the frantic insanity of people cluttering grocery stores to stock up before a storm or the sense of community you felt when you could gripe to your neighbor about how your car got blocked in when the plow cleaned the street.
There will still be things to laugh about. It will still get cold in the Winter. Sometime, very far in the future, you may automatically put on your heavy boots before going outside because you forgot that the snow no longer falls. Snow will be a thing of the past, something you visit only in the winter wonderland of your dreams.
But it will never be forgotten, because the memory of it will always be in your heart. It will forever be a part of who you are.
People are never going to stop complaining about unimportant things. But I hope that everyone can occasionally stop and think about all the things that make their life average. Be thankful for those things. Don’t wait until they’re gone.
Cheers and Good Living,