Snowflakes, soft and fluffy, were floating down, atop the 8 inches of snow on the ground. I watched my dog delightedly running circles in the yard as if to say, “Yey! Fresh snow! Look at me!” I called my 12 year-old son to the window. “I wonder why all dogs, big or small, short coats or thick coats, do that after fresh snow?” I asked. “Simple, mom,” he said. “Mindfulness.”
He was right. Dogs seem to instinctually know how to be mindful, or live in the moment. They don’t worry about how they are going to stay warm or how long they can play without getting cold. They relish the feeling of the snow beneath their paws, and the beauty of the fresh snow. When I watched my dog running in the yard, I was struck by the pure joy that emanated from him.
I thought about how many of us could benefit from experiencing simple joys, like snow, without worry, guilt or pressure to accomplish a task. Rather than worrying about how hard or how long it would take us to shovel the snow, we could smell the outdoors, feel the snowflakes on our face, notice the crunch of the snow under our feet, and see the beauty of the crystalline flakes coming down. The responsibilities would still be there, but would be far more pleasant while enjoying the beauty of the world around us for a few minutes.
Later that day, my sons and I were shoveling our sidewalks and driveway. It was hard work, but I had found a rhythm in the exercise. “Swish, scrape,” my shovel went over and over. The sun was shining, and the air was brisk. I was content.
At one point, however, I felt a nudge of frustration. I had just shoveled the long sidewalks, and part of the driveway. My sons were not nearly as industrious. I looked to see where they had wandered. As I turned my head, I saw both boys, lying on their backs in the front yard. They had big smiles on their faces, making snow angels, and trying to catch the snow they were stirring up on their tongues. Their giggles floated through the air.
At one point, I considered redirecting them to the task at hand. After all, wasn’t that the point? Finishing the task?
Then, I remembered my insight from earlier that day, and that the journey is often more important than the destination. We would get there. Eventually. But, at that moment, I soaked in beauty of their exuberance and joy. I tried to hold this memory, accept its beauty, and offer up thoughts of gratitude for the lovely day, happy kids, and a feeling that all was right in the world. Even if for a moment.
*This post was originally written in January of 2014.