In The Eyes of the Beholder

In The Eyes of the Beholder

Mount Mansfield reports 73 inches at the stake. A Vermont Public Radio headline reads, “Near Blizzard Conditions Across Northern Vermont.” The sight out of our windows speaks mountains, literally.

Vermont residents prepared for work this morning like mission-bound soldiers, but with shovel and broom. Some, those who like to be ready and organized, planned ahead by setting their alarm clocks to awake with plenty of time for the inevitable morning workout. Others looked out in shock at the usual time. How can there be five times as much snow in the matter of a simple Vermont night? The answer is in the question. This is, after all, Vermont.

Even for us country folks, life has become a sort of scheduled event. We like to be able to do things and go places as planned. Any unexpected obstacle or delay appears to send us off course mentally and emotionally. We like to be in control, yet no matter how much we plan, even in the 21st century, nature continues to remind us that control is an illusion, for the most part.

Next, comes acceptance. More than the shovel, snowplow or perfectly flowing traffic, acceptance is what allows us to enjoy a clear journey because it frees the mental path from debris and resets our perception of time and priorities.

Acceptance, I think, is what we see in the face of other commuters who, though they are running behind schedule as much as we are, walk up to the counter to pay for their morning coffee with the same natural ability to joke and smile as on a perfectly flowing, sunny vacation day.

It takes some of us longer to get over the hurdle of “out-of-our-control” events, but there is one thing I have observed repeatedly and I am certain others have made this observation as well. On a stormy day, when it takes three times as long to get ready and to get to work or when we cannot get to work at all, when we fume and worry to the point of near-exhaustion, it is always with the sudden smile of others that we relax the most and the fastest.

In work places, colleagues arrive still weighed down by the burst of frustration that soon turns to stories and anecdotes that reveal the human comedy in a new, more acceptable light. We may even admit, after a while, that the sudden change of plans was a blessing in disguise. As for children who must stay home from school and play in the snow all day, it is from our innate playfulness that we draw the ability to face the day… and the shovel.

It is beautiful and peaceful out there.