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Taking a Snow Day: A Moment with Bill Reflection
A Magical Morning
The snow had fallen while we slept, and when we awoke the world had transformed, the smudge of the city blanketed in purity.
I was twelve that morning as I peeled back the covers and raced to the window and looked out at a landscape that promised unlimited possibilities. Snow forts would be built. Hills would be sledded with reckless abandon. There were snowballs to throw, snowmen to bring to life and snowflakes to taste.
I rushed to dress in winter clothing, ran the toothbrush quickly over my teeth, and raced to the kitchen where mom had breakfast waiting and the news that school had been cancelled. Dad was just about to leave for work.
“What are you going to do with your snow day, Bill,” he asked as he headed for the front door.
“I’m going to go get Karl and see if he wants to start building a snow fort. Then we’ll call the other guys and have them come over for a snowball fight. Then we’ll probably go sledding on the 18th Street Hill,” I told him as I gulped down my Cheerios.
“Sounds great, buddy, but before you do that, how about grabbing the snow shovel and shoveling the sidewalk and driveway for Mr. and Mrs. Conrad?”
Mr. and Mrs. Conrad were our next-door neighbors, eighty-somethings who were in no shape to be shoveling snow. Normally my dad would shovel their property but work was calling him and he was passing the torch of responsibility down to his son.
“But dad, I’ve got to…..”
I didn’t finish my sentence. There was no point in trying.
I knew my dad was right.
The Conrad shoveling was my duty.
I’d Love to Change the World
“World pollution, there's no solution
Just black and white, rich or poor
Them and us, stop the war
I'd love to change the world
But I don't know what to do
So I'll leave it up to you.” (Ten Years After)
Passing the buck.
Turn your head, hope the problem goes away, or pray that someone else will take care of it.
That kind of thinking is beneath us as humans.
And yet we see it daily.
Complacency and apathy rule the day, the double-headed monsters that have infected society and rendered it purposeless. “I don’t know what to do, so I’ll leave it up to you.”
Imagine, for a moment, the ramifications of that kind of myopic thinking.
I can’t do a damn thing about it so why bother?
The problems are just too many. Someone else will have to deal with them.
I’m only one man. How can I possibly change the course of mighty rivers or bend steel in my bare hands?
So the muggings continue, the rapes, the trafficking, the drugs, drive-bys, homelessness, pillaging, hopelessness, joblessness, it all continues unabated and ignored by those who simply can’t be bothered by it all.
It is a cancer that is slowly eating healthy cells and leaving a diseased carcass in its wake, and if you look closely you’ll notice that the cancer and the carcass are one and the same.
I think it’s about time we all grab our show shovels.
What Can You Do?
“Beginning today, treat everyone you meet as if they were going to be dead by midnight. Extend to them all the care, kindness and understanding you can muster, and do it with no thought of any reward. Your life will never be the same again.”
I doubt seriously that you’ll ever see me on television giving a “I Have A Dream” speech to hundreds of thousands. I’m not a nationally-acclaimed figure nor will I ever be. I am not the CEO of a mega-corporation and I don’t have billions of dollars at my disposal with which to make changes.
I’m just a guy. One of seven-point-two billion guys and gals. I’m a dust mote on the ass of humanity if we really want to get real about it all.
What can I do?
I can do what I can do!
Sounds simplistic but it really isn’t, especially if a few million people followed suit.
I can hold doors open for people. I can smile more often. I can say “good afternoon” and “good morning” to people as I pass them on the street. I can reach out a hand to someone who needs a friend, and I can make an attempt to meet a stranger. I can be kinder, wiser, more forgiving and more giving. I can be compassionate and passionate, empathetic and energetic, and I can model the actions I would like to see in others.
Sheez, it turns out there is quite a bit I can do.
Who woulda thunk it?
This article will be read by several thousand people. If every one of those people did one act of kindness, and those acts were answered with reciprocation….and the ripple became a wave, and the wave washed over an entire landscape, scouring it clean and providing for new growth in its wake.
Wouldn’t it be beautiful?
One Small Example
My wife and I go get a mocha every Saturday morning. Oftentimes we see the same vehicles in line to be served, so we tend to wave at folks we really don’t know but still recognize.
One of those people is a local cop. We only know he goes by the initials J.J., and he starts his shift just about the time we are getting our drinks every Saturday.
Last week J.J. was in front of us in line, and when we finally got to the drive-through window, we were told by the barista that J.J. had paid for our coffee.
A random act of kindness.
Pay it forward!
We did the same for a woman behind us in line the next day. As we were driving away from the coffee shop, we saw the woman roll down her window, lean out of her car, and start yelling “THANK YOU” to us and grinning at us.
It made our day.
It was so easy to do. A five-dollar gift for a complete stranger.
Back to the Snow Day
So I grabbed the snow shovel and I trudged over to the Conrad house. For the next hour I shoveled snow off their sidewalks and driveway, and when I finished our two old neighbors were standing on their porch waving at me and inviting me in. While I was shoveling, Mrs. Conrad made hot chocolate and warmed up some cookies, so I was given a treat for my efforts.
And you know what? I still had time to go sledding, have a snowball fight, build a snow fort and a snow man, and enjoy the hell out of that snow day. In other words, I didn’t miss out on a thing and I managed to make two old people very happy.
I remember going to bed that night feeling pretty darned good about life.
What do you say? Tomorrow let’s all have a “snow day” and see if we can’t share the love a bit. Afterwards, we’ll go sledding.
Are you with me?
2015 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)