It snowed again this weekend in D.C. and the surrounding areas. “Surely you jest!!” you say. No…really people. I know, right? Blink and you might have missed it…either that or perhaps you were in a temporary coma. I am still looking for my car. Some have found theirs. Congratulations. I know where I parked mine since I rent a space, but instead of a vehicle in my spot, there was only a mountain of frozen whiteness. Since all I have is a plastic shovel and bucket for the beach, I am hoping I do manage the excavation and use of that mode of transportation before the spring thaw. I also hoped to see the Eagles in the Superbowl. You can see how the car situation is probably going to go for me. I hope you all out there fared much better, and that your shovels are at the very least made of metal or some snow-functional alloy.
As I watched the flakes come down, first slowly, and then at a level that rendered everything a blank canvas; and watched the accumulation rise to well above my knees, I noticed something else as well. Something we may usually only observe or at the very least acknowledge during some sort of disaster or life defining moment. Although I am a cynic by nature or maybe by experience, I noticed camaraderie; I noticed a lightness of mood. I noticed friends helping friends; neighbors helping neighbors; human beings helping fellow human beings; people having fun in a situation that otherwise might not have been the most pleasant.
I didn’t really think about it at first. It hit me while reading a note from someone who told me he was walking home through the storm and (regardless of how uncomfortable it might have been for him), he stopped to help people push their cars out of the mess. He didn’t say this to impress or to be a martyr; it was just a matter of fact mention in a conversation. I’m sure it was much more to the people that managed to make it home late at night because of his help. I noticed neighbors shoveling neighbors’ driveways and sidewalks as well as their own. There were ‘friendly’ snowball fights all over town. I participated in one—it brought out half the neighborhood—all of us together sharing the cold; the wet; the frosty projectile—but none hurled in anger or with undo force. No humans or animals were hurt in the making of that video, by the way. People were out taking photos, getting together for meals or drinks at odd hours when normally they would be running errands, giggling at their dogs as they nudged up flakes with their noses, enjoying raw nature and most importantly, taking in acquaintances who had lost power and water.
I am far from a misanthrope, but sometimes the things people do leave me a little skeptical about mankind or at the very least, motive. And this is, by all means, NOT the tragedy of Haiti or Katrina where gargantuan aid efforts were and are being made by people who are, in a word, heroes—it isn’t of that magnitude at all—but it is a very small snapshot. This past weekend, I was reminded that there is, even if sometimes buried deeply, even if often we are too busy to find or notice it, a sweetness—a gentleness of human spirit that is there. It may often be hidden and a few may be bereft of it completely—but maybe it takes, in this case a blizzard, to force it and all of us to come out and play. I hope it is out tomorrow, as I again try to unearth my car. If anyone out there has a shovel they could lend me, maybe something a little larger than a foot in length, maybe something not in blue polymer, I’d be most appreciative.