Friday, December 22, 2006

A little perspective for the holidays

Weather is such a mundane part of existence--the stuff of small talk when we've run out of other small talk--but it can destroy us all. That is hardly mundane. I am reminded of this again with the snows in Denver, or "fresh pow," as I have recently understood it to be called by ski bums (or just mythical ski bums). About a year ago, my mom and I set off to Boston to see my brother's biannual sketch comedy show. As it happened, the night, we left a big snow storm was predicted to hit both Chicago, and--if I recall correctly--Boston. (A sidenote: I don't know that I have ever been to Boston when it hasn't precipitated heavily or been very cold).

My mom and I could have gone into the evening with one of two mindsets: (1) What an inconvenience for us, we better get out of Chicago, getting delayed is terrible or (2) This is out of our control, we should only fly if the airlines assure us it's safe, and the fact that we're even getting driven to the airport amidst a snow storm and that planes are attempting to fly out is above and beyond what we should expect. It indicates something impressive about modern technology and in turn the way we become accustomed to convenience. We chose the latter approach, which made the experience much less vexing. We sat in a cab for maybe two hours and were delayed another two hours or so at O'Hare. That's all. Somehow we made it to Boston the same evening.

I try to think of that night every time I face an inconvenience that is beyond my control. It's amazing how much our society requires that everything move smoothly, that I think every once in awhile, it is worth stepping back and awing at it all. This year, if it happens to snow in Chicago when I fly back, I know I'll be frustrated, especially if I can't get there until the middle of next week--as is the case for people going to Denver this year--but I can't help but think that because we rely on things to be convenient all of the time, we forget how unnatural such convenience is, how hard people have to work to keep stores open 24/7 and airports running through the holidays, a time when inclement weather is hardly rare. Maybe every once in awhile, it's valuable for us to recognize that there are forces out of our control, especially in the form of our environment, and that we should therefore leave ourselves some legroom when those situations occur.

For more perspective on the holidays, better than that which I can offer, watch It's a Wonderful Life. It's a movie that's all about putting life into perspective, and it is always appropriate at this time of year.


Anonymous said...

To my incredulous, nose-turning-up friends: A google search for "fresh pow" turns up over a million entries, nearly all of which pertain to snow. I'll admit that these were probably all written by unwashed non-francophiles, but let's give some credit where it's due.

Elaine said...

Haha nice. I mean I love the term in an ironic sort of way.

Anonymous said...

that was a memorable trip, and could not have had better company!

Anonymous said...

oh, of course. the first time I heard it from a friendly ski bum I thought "damn, you've been on the mountain for too long."
ps- your mom reads your blog? that is just too cute.