Nearly four years have passed, yet I can still smell the road salt.
Dateline: February 2010 – a month of shoveling, aching backs, and memories.
Back-to-back Nor’easters had dumped more snow in the region than ever before, making it the snowiest winter in the history of the Mid-Atlantic. Schools closed for two weeks, the din of traffic disappeared, white mountains dotted the landscape until nearly Easter, and in perhaps the greatest miracle since hockey at Lake Placid in 1980, people actually slowed down. Slow motion became the default. And if for but a brief moment, things seemed to change.
Generally speaking, winter earns whatever’s beneath a bronze medal in my opinion, but I have to admit, sometimes I kind of wish for a good-old-fashioned white-out.
Think about it. If a frosty blanket suddenly buried our area, sleds would suddenly outnumber cars. The sounds of nature would actually be heard. Instead of making money for their kids, moms and dads could make snow angels with their kids. Hot chocolate would be rediscovered. Snowballs could replace conference calls, and playing in a snow fort, could replace parking at the airport.
I guess my quirky desire for a few days of slow motion is because I seem to suffer from a quite common disorder, the chief characteristic of which is an obsessive attention to clocks and how much time things are taking. A few days ago, for example, I found myself quite perturbed because it actually took six minutes for me to get my food at McDonald’s. I thought this was supposed to be fast food? Six minutes! Some other symptoms I’ve noticed:
- My “faster than the speed of sound” internet connection doesn’t seem fast enough any more.
- When stopped at a red light, I habitually look at the opposing lights to see when they’re about to turn red, so I can go again.
- The time it takes the driver ahead of me to move his foot from his brake pedal to the accelerator is longer than the time it takes me to move my hand from my gear shift to the horn.
- I was disappointed when a local grocery store announced recently that they’d no longer be open 24 hours a day. Not that I’ve ever bought asparagus at 3:15 a.m., but knowing I could was strangely comforting.
Undoubtedly, a schedule-altering winter storm of significant size would be a major adjustment for someone like me. But accompanying the frozen precipitation would be an important lesson. We clock-watchers would be forced to remember that not everything in life can, or should be, quantified. Things like playing with your children, sitting down and eating together as a family, or reading a good book are every bit as important as action lists, project deadlines, and ledger sheets.
So, let the snow fall. Let the garbage collectors and mail carriers have a day off. Before long the sun will melt us right back into the fast pace of life. But at least for a few hours, we’ll be reminded that the most important things in life are to be treasured, not timed.