This winter, shortly after a snow storm, my wife and I were driving home. On our normal route home there is a small stream that originates from a lake that is the center of a nearby park. It runs through a culvert under the road winding next to farmland and houses. Ducks and geese use the stream for whatever ducks and geese do as they enjoy the day. But this was a winter day. A white, freshly fallen snow, winter day.
I was driving slowly because the road was covered. As we approached the area of the stream, we both noticed a flash of red, stark against the snow. There was no traffic so I slowed down even more to watch a fox playing on the ice covered stream. The fox jumped, circled, bounded a few times. It was playing something. Its coat was beautiful against the white plumps the fox made as it enjoyed the moment.
It was joy personified.
After a few seconds the fox disappeared from our view as we continued home. I did think that it would have been a cool picture, but in all honesty we would have ruined the moment if we had stopped and tried to take the photo. In fact we probably wouldn’t have gotten a photo anyway.
Instead of a photo, I have the memory. And when I drive past the stream, I think about that fox, about the joy it had playing in the snow. And I’m glad I didn’t ruin it by trying to take a photo of the moment.
I arrived at work just before 7 o’clock. The maintenance crew is sweeping the snow from the parking lot, but the section I usually park in is untouched. It is an unblemished field of white. I feel guilty pulling into, what I hope is, my parking spot. I have no idea if I am between the yellow lines. I know I am close because I recognize the shape of the bush that I park by.
I collect my computer, coffee cup, and my Vikings Tervis cup. The air is cold. It quickly hurts my nostrils. My breath a heavy cloud in front of me. I watch as maintenance zooms around the parking lot in their little tractors, sweeping away the snow. I head to my office, snow lightly crunching under my feet as I traverse across the white stillness. My mind heavy with life and work. On an impulse I turn to take a picture of my steps for my 365 project.
As I put my phone back into my pocket I think about how I am the first person to walk on this snow this morning. Then how in a few minutes the maintenance guys will clear away my steps. How more cars will settler in their spots for the day, and when I walk back to my car my steps will be gone. If it warms up enough, there will only be slush left on the concrete.
But isn’t that life? Isn’t this a metaphor for every morning of our lives? Each day we are given the opportunity to make our mark on the day. Yes, life, and other people, will impact our day. Our lives are all connected, we can not or should not shy away from that fact. And yes, some days it feels like we have to find our way back to the car by jumping puddles or stomping off slush from our shoes before we go home.
But that is the point. Our lives are worth making those steps each day. Even knowing that the prints may be gone by the end of the day because we know we took them. My hands (or feet) will never be saved in concrete. I know my life is meant to walk in snow, that my prints are only seen by me. And that is OK because I made them, crooked left step and all.
We had enough bad weather this morning that I had to shovel snow again. It was easy to remove the snow from the driveway, but it was a chore to remove the shin high snow from the street. Specifically the area around my mailbox.
Clearing the Street
It is probably a city ordinance to have this area cleared, and there was no way the mail person would have been able to deliver our mail tomorrow without me clearing the area for them. To be honest, I was not happy about it. All I have is a snow shovel (Yes, a snow blower will be on my Christmas list next year).
As I started in to the task I remembered that last Friday, when the wind was blowing like crazy, our garbage men placed our garbage and recycling containers next to our garage doors out of the wind. A small action that meant a lot.
A small action… small moments… that mean a lot.
Maybe it was all the snow I was shoveling, but your mind can be free to think when you are working, and I was thinking about how our lives are stitched together by all the small moments we create. All the words we say on a daily basis. Big moments come, but our strength comes from the way we build our lives through the small actions we do.
I know the mail person will not even think about the work I did clearing the snow, but it will matter for them. Honestly, most of the small things we do go unnoticed, yet they are the actions that make our days matter. For us and the people around us. What small thing can you do today?