Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Snowcation

These snow days have given me time to read again--given me time to think for myself for the first time in what seems like an eternity. So I suppose that means you have to deal with my mental vomit now, as I am drunk with too much thought for my body to contain.

I could say so many things about banquets and suits and events of several weeks ago, but this isn't the time, and this certainly isn't the place. But I can talk about snow and football.

In 1993, a lot of us experienced a snow storm of similar magnitude to that which occurred over the weekend. But this isn't the same. Elementary school snow days, while we all adored them and appreciated them as much as we could, can't quite compare to what we are experiencing now. I am not discounting the stresses of a life from which I have not even truly separated myself (that life being my childhood, of course). But you can see all around you the remarkably effective ways children deal with their day-to-day stresses. Children don't need to be taught to relieve their stress with meditation and yoga and psychotherapy. Their relief springs from a much simpler source: the innate desire to PLAY.

On the morning after the storm, people were ambling, clambering, and trudging through the middle of the streets, now laden with solid sheets of whiteness. The roads became giant footpaths, inaccessible to traffic, and therefore inaccessible to many of the things that distract us from what really matters. Even cars parked on these roads began to disappear under nature's fine white carpet. It's another clue to what's important, and it's a not-so-subtle reminder, like the storm itself, that we are not the ultimate masters of this universe.

But amidst the chaos of collapsing social order and diminishing institutional control (however minute), we noticed something else. I'd like to think it had something to do with the absence of the "essential personnel." In the absence of these adults--these people who have long since forgotten--we were able to remember.

Those students carrying bags of bread and milk (and cases of Budweiser) were significantly outnumbered by students carrying sleds, skis, and snowboards right down the middle of Forbes Avenue. We saw relay races in the snow on the Cathedral Lawn. Snowball fights. Snow angels. People being together. And playing. It was as much a snow day as any other we've had, yet it was way more than any snow day I've ever seen. In an environment where we are conditioned to believe that the only way anyone can have any fun in college is to do Jell-o shots off half-naked sorority girls and tear down bus stations; where we are forced to become enemies with one another because we are taught that being cutthroat will get us further in life, when all that further means is that we'll want to be even further and that we'll have way more to worry about when we get there; where we are constantly being told that we have to be mature, that we have to shove aside these childish pursuits and studystudystudy all the time and make sure we do this constructive activity and that and put this on our resume over here and add this thing too...In this world, I think the most important thing that we can remember is that sometimes, no matter how much shit is going on in your life and how much you should be doing this or that, what you really need is to go outside, pack down a handful of snow into a perfect sphere, and play.

I think football will have to wait. It's a completely different subject, and right now, my time is better spent not spending my time better at all.

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