A SNOW DAY SLOW DOWN
By: Lauren Anderson
“Life is what happens while we’re busy making other plans”.
The epic words of John Lennon, or Mr. Holland’s Opus, or the coffee-table quote book, or wherever you heard that gem-of-a-phrase for the first time never seems more true than on a Snow Day.
I went to bed on Sunday with a jam-packed Monday. Filled with excitement and a dash of duty. Only to wake up early on Monday with almost everything cancelled… except the duty part. Ain’t that just the way?
I had plans to wake up, go teach my improv class– which I love, go to the gym, meet with my friend for a late lunch, and then come home and write and get ready for a corporate gig I had that evening.
Hahaha! Sounds like an eventful day right?
But Noooooooooo. That’s not what happened. Instead, everything got cancelled (except for my corporate gig, of course) and I was forced to stay in my apartment and well, stay there.
It took me almost 30 minutes to get to my dumpster out back to throw my garbage away, so anything optional soon became a non-option.
Sometimes this is the best thing ever! An excuse to check out for the day and relax and spend some time doing what you want. Without any guilt or pressure. It’s like a free day.
But when you desperately need to get out and about, this is like the LAST thing that I needed. I know it’s really en vogue to be an introvert right now, and that’s all you ever hear about. But what about the person like me who gets a little stir crazy if left to my own devices for too long?
This is not to say I don’t love an epic marathon-watch of something, or a day of reading, relaxing, or dorking around my apartment. But I want to CHOOSE that for myself ya know? If I’m forced to stay in, I end up feeling a bit trapped.
And this goes especially double for my gym time. After going out of town, and being away from it, I was kinda itching to get back to the “the box” so-to-speak. My body was like, “C’mon Anderson! Let’s go!” And by some miracle, my brain was fully ready to oblige.
And then BAM. SNOW. Inches and inches. To the point where unnecessary driving would’ve been dangerous. So logic won out. And inside I stayed.
But it did get me thinking. I remember years ago, my dear friend got laid off from his job unexpectedly. It was a high-powered job, that took up a lot of his time and mental energy. To put it bluntly, he was GO GO GO almost non-stop.
I don’t think he even realized how busy and unrelenting his schedule was, because he, like me, prefers busy to quiet. Movement to stillness. GO GO GO to Stop.
But then his job went away. And he was forced to slow down, re-calibrate, and be still.
It was AGONY for him. He hated it. The first few months, were the saddest and most depressed I had ever seen him. He tried to get side-hustle after side-hustle up and off the ground. But even starting projects and what-not, were not enough to fill the void that his old schedule used to take up.
I remember talking to him a lot during this time, and I kept getting the feeling that this time was being thrust on him, and if he examined it more closely, he could find purpose in the down time.
I don’t ascribe to the belief that “everything happens for a reason”. I think that’s a silly thing people say when they don’t know what else to say, and perhaps they’re uncomfortable with someone else’s grief….
But I do think the universe provides times and experiences that will GROW US, if we stop and take advantage of them. I saw my friend’s pain about the stillness in his life, and I encouraged him to, for lack of a better phrase, lean into it.
I said, “You know, you’ve been keeping this insane schedule for over a decade. Even though it’s hard right now, maybe this is an excuse to let yourself be quiet and still, and figure out who you are when you’re not in the act of DOING.”
On an intellectual level, I think he heard me. But that didn’t magically make it easy, or fun for that matter. But as the months droned on, and he began to get to know a slowed-down version of himself, you could see the joy creep back in. He started to find some comfort in the stillness, and to notice the little stuff.
He opened himself up, and as if by magic, found the love of his life.
It sounds so cliché’ as I’m typing this right now. But this forced-break allowed him to re-group, rest, and gear up for the next chapter of his life. Where he got married, built a house, and had a kid in under 36 months! Hoo boy!
We giggle about this now that his life is full-blown insane again. But without that down time, I don’t think he would’ve been ready for what was to come.
* * *
And then I got to thinking about WINTER itself. This is EXACTLY what winter does.
I recognize I am in the minority and I actually enjoy winter quite a bit. But I also grew up with a mother that appreciated it as well. She would always say, “Winter is when the world gets quiet and gets to rest. So it has energy to grow again in the Spring.”
Wise words by my mom there. So all the stillness and cold, never felt sad or daunting. It felt like the world taking a much needed break, so it would have the energy to wow us all again in the spring, with all the bright greens and sunlight, buds, blooms, and babies.
* * *
So what does that all mean for the Snow Day that was thrust on me against my wishes?
Well, I may not have been able to rock my body at the gym like I hoped, or have lunch with my best bud… whom I haven’t seen in too long. But after I got back into the apartment after taking my trash out, I decided to take my own damn advice and lean into the experience.
I wrote a bit, made a luxurious breakfast, and cleaned my apartment– a little. (I mean, let’s not go crazy here.) And what I discovered, is that quiet stillness had a therapeutic effect on me too.
I just needed to get out of my own way and allow it to happen.
And on this journey toward greater health and understanding– I think yesterday was an important reminder for me. To accept the quiet when it is given to me. Realize rest is sometimes as important as movement. And that downtime is essential to gear up for the next big swing.
Because really, what is an experience for if we never take the time to reflect on it?
Sometimes I need the winter, to help me greater appreciate the spring.