Do you remember the Ray Bradbury story, “All Summer in a Day”? Well, these past several days have felt like all winter in a week. Snow, and ice, and freezing rain have pelted us here in Connecticut. Temperatures plummeted. And it seems like the wind has been howling, whipping around the edges of my house, raging across the roads.
I don’t know about you, but when blustery winter weather moves in I hunker down. I seek out the coziest arrangement I can manage–ideally fuzzy pajamas, a pot of tea, and a stack of books. Hey, as long as we’re imagining the ideal, let’s throw in a crackling fire and some peace and quiet.
Reality is never quite so idyllic. There’s the shovelling, obviously. And the household chores that collect during the school week. And even though midterms are finally over, my freshman son still has piles of homework that somehow take more of my time than my own collection of schoolwork. My younger son, while he needs little attention to his homework, nevertheless feels left out while our focus is elsewhere. Add to this the not-peace-and-quiet when both boys are frolicking together, then when there’s been just too much frolicking and togetherness. And somehow there’s as much swirling and drifting inside the house as out.
Ready? Here comes the metaphor within a metaphor.
This whole winter has been like that. With the state of the world such as it is, every news headline, and many social media posts send my insides into a squall. Half formed reactions and ideas pile atop each other, only to be blown across my brain into new drifts higher than I could climb and deep enough for two active boys to dig forts into. It feels like no matter how fast I shovel the (alarming) information, the driveway is covered in a new inch of snow before I even make my way to the mailbox. Maybe you’ve felt it too.
Strangely enough, I find myself relentlessly seeking input from my NY Times subscription, NPR One, and the many socially active authors and educators I follow on Twitter. When I pause the input the thoughts start to swirl again. At least while I’m scanning or listening I can focus on one thing at a time. But the blizzard, the avalanche of information builds up. You’ve probably seen a shopping center parking lot recently. There comes a time when there is nowhere else to put the accumulating snow.
In the middle of the blizzard, a colleague convinced me to participate in the Slice of Life Challenge (previous post). As I dusted off the keyboard and pulled out a notebook something surprising happened. The wind died down. The background noise faded into the background. I could see the post-blizzard sunset.
I forgot writing could do that.
So tonight, when the winds started to gust, I pulled out the notebook again.
First the pen can calm the storm… Later it can attempt to be mightier than the sword. Maybe writing can be whatever we need it to be in the moment.
Enjoy your own blizzard sunsets.