Dirty Drifts

The city snow will disappear this week and I’d like to say a fond farewell.

You hung on too long, my friend, you and your sooty piles, heaped next to the trash.

New York City is beautiful in the Spring and in the Fall. It is beautiful in the Winter right after the snow falls. There are sparkles in the moonlight then. But now, there are cigarette butts and doggy doo. And it’s really time for the snow to go.

I was in Vermont last week. There, the snow stays white.

I don’t want to move to Vermont. Yet I found comfort and beauty in snow that stayed pristine. There was something relaxing about being in a place that is not polluted. (I love that Vermont is just a few hours from NYC.)

I took this picture when cross country skiing at the Lincoln Family Home at Hildene, a grand home, (built on the backs of our immigrant ancestors), by Robert Todd Lincoln, who was president of Pullman Company. Most recently owned by an eccentric descendant of the great president, Ms. Beckwith, it is now a lovely cross country skiing destination with 416 of Lincoln’s 500 acres still intact. Really lovely. http://www.hildene.org/

With every good bye I bid to one season, I have to remember a hello will follow. The daffodils will be the first, their little green sprouts, emerging. And the buds on trees, tightly wound, will emerge. The seasons are a miracle. Just as you can no longer live with one, the next comes waltzing (or skiing) in.

Cross Country Skiing and Listening

When I started out cross country skiing today, I was totally listening to the world from a level 1. “I can’t do this. I’m cold.”   

In my workplace Leadership Academy, I learned there are three levels of listening:

  1. Listening to yourself  (at times, self consciously)
  2. Listening  to one other person (intently)
  3. Listening  to the room (the vibe)

After about 20 minutes of skiing, I found my rhythm. I may not have been elegant, but I was competent. And I could see the trees and the snow and the mountains.

After looking around, I began listening around. I was at level 3 — the greater room, the bigger world. Nature was my room, and the vibe was quiet.

There is a time when doing outdoor sports — or maybe any sports — when it is no longer possible to remain self-centered. Okay, yes, I can run with headphones on and stay in my head. But, at some point, I will be aware of a larger world around me. If I take the buds out of my ears, I can hear the sound of my feet hitting the sidewalk, a bird calling, or a dog barking.

Out in the snow today, the sounds were muffled and quiet. Occasionally a tree creaked as if in pain. There was nothing really much in the world to hear. Yet I was alive to the sounds and to the day. I forgot I was cold. I transcended myself.