on finding goodness
decency and delight
I may have broken the neighbor's snowblower.
I think when we started it up, something got into the augers and a sheer pin broke.
As I write this, I’ve just come in from attempting to clean up after a particularly large dump of snow that turned quickly to heavy slush due to the rain that followed it.
This was a widow maker storm. The effort required to clean up likely took a few lives in the form of heart attacks.
I had no idea the snow blower was broken until I started clearing the fifth driveway on our street. At 49 years of age, I’m one of the younger people on the street. With that in mind, I gleefully ran around clearing driveways.
The whole family pitched in.
It seemed like everyone was out shoveling. The mood was jovial. We were all working. Cleaver jokes and odd conversations punctuated the afternoon. I left my phone inside. In fact, I neither saw nor heard a phone all afternoon.
Over the last little while, I’ve not spent much time away from my phone, away from a screaming screen. Over four hours passed. No messages. No texts. No ‘just checking on…” I was pretty disconnected
Instead, out on the street we were human beings face to face, helping each other and having a human experience. We smiled. We laughed.
It was a nice time - a fleeting moment of all of us doing the same thing at the same time. There’s nothing like the weather to bring people together. There is nothing like a storm to bring you into the same time with other people nearby.
We all worked together. We all got tired together.
Eventually we were finished. The snow wasn’t entirely gone, our bodies spoke. In the end we needed to rest.
Inside, wet and weary we ate mashed potatoes and meatballs.
Back inside I looked at my phone. Righteousness. Resentment. Rage. Shame. Blame. So much ugly being amplified. So many people with two years of pent up resentment broadcasting their aggression with little awareness of their own visciousness.
The contrast between the world on my phone and the world of working together was stark indeed.
No one saw our collective bliss.
There were no photos.
Just an experience that was more ephemeral than the snow we were moving.
Find the others.
Find the fools willing to smile at a shared moment, laugh at a shared joke and join in shared work.
Find them with a glance, with a whisper or a nod.
Find that moment of tenderness and connection. Ordinary fools participate in the collective blood lust of social media shaming and self righteous indignation. They get small satisfaction and comfort in their certainty. Ordinary fools gain satisfaction from their perception of righteousness. Ordinary fools have no room for hope.
Remarkable Fools embrace the uncertainty of connecting with others.
Will we find satisfaction? Can we connect?
A remarkable fool is unsure and as such, relies on hope.
Remarkable Fools speak to strangers.
Remarkable Fools speak out of turn.
Remarkable Fools go outside and shovel driveways together.
You too can be a Remarkable Fool.
Find the others. See if you can connect.
Is there a joke to be made somewhere, a smile to find?
Can you connect with a stranger, for just a random moment somewhere real?
However you can do it, do it. Find a real human today. Acknowledge their existence. It's more real than the internet, more real than any meme or urging on Scamstagram. With others, you can actually move snow together. With others, you can move mountains.
And you can do this as an exercise in futility knowing damn well that that's no one is immortal. No one has perfected life such that they cheat death. One day, we’ll all melt and wash away. One day we’ll be forgotten just like the snow. We’re more the same than different.
So, the snowblower is broken, but the bond on our street gets stronger with every storm.
It’s like the old saying goes:
If herding cats is difficult, you likely need fewer cats.