I hate snow. I haven’t always, and maybe I won’t always, but I do now. I’m convinced it’s largely because I grew up and live in the city.
By contrast, my wife loves snow. (It’s worth noting she grew up in the country.) When it snows she sees beauty, relaxing days at home, and adventure when traveling. I see mess, cancelled plans, and dangerous driving. On that first item (mess), I sincerely believe there is a cultural divide. Allow me to expound:
In the country when it snows, the wide open landscape is transformed in a white blanket, and stays beautiful for days. You simply have to clear your driveway, and eventually the plow truck will clear the road. No problem. Enjoy the view.
In the city when it snows, the falling snow looks beautiful initially, but quickly becomes a gray slop after the plow trucks salt the streets. Ugly. Most cities are compact, with houses, businesses, sidewalks, and streets all stuffed into the same square mile. Therefore when it snows (a lot), you must now solve the problem of making said spaces accessible by clearing the snow and putting it… well, we still don’t know where. So it ends up in heaps and piles everywhere… else.
Class, observe: humans by nature follow the path of least resistance.
The most agitating part of snow as a city-dweller is shoveling your car out. It’s not that I mind so much the physical exertion, it’s just that everyone else is also doing the same thing, and there is almost literally nowhere to put the snow. In an ideal world, you could park right in front of your house, and could carry the snow from the street side of your car, across the sidewalk, and dump it in your own tiny front yard. In an ideal world, everyone would operate on the unspoken right that you can park your car(s) in front of the address you live at, and would understand that in so doing you have the responsibility to efficiently park your vehicles as reasonably close together as possible to allow others to exercise the same right. (This is probably a problem country folks rarely encounter.)
But we don’t live in an ideal world. Because we follow the path of least resistance, rather than taking the sixty seconds to parallel park our cars in front of our own house, we prefer to easily pull over further down the street… in front of someone else’s house. In the summer, this is tolerable.
In the winter however, because we’ve put forth minimal effort to park our cars correctly at our residences, we now face a) the undesirable task of carrying heavy snow from around our car up the street to our front yard, or b) dump it in whosever’s yard you’re at currently; which we don’t do out of courtesy since that person is already taking pains to keep their sidewalk clean. So again, we follow the path of least resistance and simply dump the snow around our car behind the tailpipe- making an enormous pile directly in front of another person’s headlights. It’s a ridiculous war, and the last man to lace up his boots loses.
Still, there’s others yet who continue with minimal effort and don’t even clear the snow off their vehicle, let alone shovel. Which is fine, that’s their business- until you return home one day to find their car pulled forward into your nicely cleared spot, and you now have nowhere to park that doesn’t require walking around the block, or further shoveling.
You really gotta defrost your windshield in the winter, especially when there’s steam coming out your ears.
This conflict took on a new dimension for me yesterday afternoon. Although we’d already shoveled our cars enough to get out when necessary, I took advantage of the bright sunshine to fully clear the snow around the edges. Behind my car, still buried, sat my neighbors’ sedan; which I knew from previous experience had a tendency to migrate into my spot once I pulled out. As I paused to catch my breath, I reflected somewhat bitterly. Why are my neighbors so lazy? Why can’t they pull their weight and shovel their spot like everyone else?
If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.
In that moment, the Spirit brought that scripture to mind, and convicted me. I realized my attitude wasn’t focused on my abilities, but on others actions. They park in my spot. They take advantage of my efforts. They, they, they. But the Spirit challenged me: “so far as depends on you.”
I decided to shovel out the heap of snow, about four feet wide, between the bumper of my neighbors’ car and mine. Fortunately, I was relatively close to my front porch, so carrying the snow to my yard wasn’t terribly taxing. As a result, instead of having two nicely shoveled spots near my house, there’d be three. And if my neighbors’ decided to take “mine,” then it wouldn’t be too difficult for me to park in “theirs.” In this way, although I never talked to my neighbors, I could practice living at peace with them; even if they never knew it annoyed me. (I needed the exercise anyway.)
Will it still irritate me when people park in front of my house, or don’t shovel out their cars? Of course, we all have our own pet peeves, and our preferred methods for how things ought to be done. But perhaps next time, I’ll first consider my own ability to control my actions for peace, rather than just expecting others to align theirs to achieve my desired outcome.