I'm writing this mid-blizzard. At 25 years old, even after four winters spent in the mountains of western North Carolina, snowstorms still excite me. Growing up in the south, snow was such a novelty. People were abuzz as soon as it was predicted.
"Heard we might be getting 4 inches Wednesday night."
"I heard it's gonna be 8 inches."
"Nah. It's gonna miss us entirely. We're too far south. We'll just get a dusting at the most."
To a kid in the south, snow was like a shitty divorced Dad you were supposed to spend one weekend a month with, always promising grand adventures but not even showing up half the time. You learned not to get your hopes up. Too many times you'd dreamt of sledding and snowball fights only to find yourself sitting in a classroom the next day.
I still love a disastrous, shut-down-a-city snowstorm but now it's for a different reason. I love how humbling it is. Look at the frenzy it sends us into. They're calling for this to be one of the worst blizzards New York has ever seen. (To the blizzard, that's probably a compliment.) Flights are cancelled. I'm rescheduling with my private training clients. Another coach is covering my classes at the gym because if I go downtown to work tonight I may not be able to catch a train back up. I'm losing money. It's chaos. That's what I love about it. Sometimes the routine of our man-made infrastructure seems unstoppable. Everyday we go to work. Trains run. Planes fly. Goods are produced. Services are rendered. Water, electricity and internet are all delivered without interruption. Most of the time these things occur with a regularity that matches the rising and setting of the sun. I think this has lead many of us to develop a reverence for our artificial system, equal to that which we have for forces of nature.
And then a blizzard hits to help us remember the stark contrast in importance between our own processes and those being carried out by our environment. Our sacred contrived rituals aren't so enduring. They're rather fragile, entirely malleable to the forces that truly govern this world. And even the most powerful human beings are stripped of their influence when confronted by these forces. Blizzards can't be paid off or made illegal. If a blizzard commits mass murder we don't even bother protesting. Nobody blogs about how we condone a blizzard culture. We just accept the fate handed to us by nature.
I appreciate the reminder that this world is so much bigger than our little ant hill of humanity. Although day-to-day life may not always feel like it, a snowstorm reminds me that in the grand scheme of things we're in a mad scramble to adapt to our environment quickly enough that we might cling to survival, with knuckles as white as the avenue outside my window.