It’s a wet Fall day here in upstate New York and the temperature has been hovering around 37 degrees all day. A cold rain fell all night and it pulled the frost-burned leaves off the ancient Ash trees in my front yard. At this moment snow is coming down in the high peaks, just north of us. Mount Marcy, Old Forge, Whiteface Mountain, Lake Placid and the upper elevations are getting a blast of snow that was carried by frigid Canadian air. This marks the first touch of winter, the start of the holiday season and the reality that a changeover has finally come.
The stark contrast of this changeover was extremely clear to me as I woke up this morning. That’s because my wife and I just flew back from a vacation in Valencia and Santa Barbara, California. Yesterday morning we were 3,000 miles away from here, enjoying the west coast with family. It was 85 degrees, cloudless, warm and breezy. We had sand between our toes and the sound of motorcycles, birds and the Pacific Ocean in our ears. It really was wonderful to feel the heat of summer when my northeast “knower” was already leaning into a winter frame of mind.
Thus, last night about 1am when we landed in Albany, NY, life in the Northeast hit me. Needless to say, this morning when I heard the sound of my furnace kicking on, the weather report saying it was snowing north of us, and the pelting of ice-cold rain on my roof, it was a reality check. Thus, when I saw that first wet snowflake fall, I made myself a cup of hot coffee. I added some pure Maple syrup, pulled on a warm sweatshirt and sat in my old rocker looking out the window to surmise the situation.
In that moment of silent contemplation, another heavy flake fell into my view. When it hit the ground and melted, a change happened within me instantly, and something was done. One flake, just one wet snowflake, shifted my thoughts and frame of reference from Fall to Winter. That was it. No big fan fare or parade. No deep theological reality came shaking heaven and earth around me. No, nothing like that at all happened. The balance point in my “knower” had been leaning towards what must come, and with the arrival of one flake of snow everything tilted into a winter mode and life simply moved on. The wait was over, the reality was here and I actually enjoyed it.
My point in sharing this moment of truth is simple. The fact is, life in general is not what we anticipate it to be. To get the most out of things we need to relax, enjoy the journey and go with the flow. What I mean is, the anticipation of a coming change is often more difficult to endure than the actual change itself. Our thoughts, emotions and concerns all lean toward that future event, yet the actual event is usually quite different from what we imagined. Because of this, all the time, energy and thought we put into what is to come, is basically wasted on nothing.
Don’t think I am saying we need not prepare. Truthfully, preparation is one of the main keys we need to exercise for real success. What I am saying is that people are often more wrapped up in what “might” happen than what actually is happening in the here and now. Let me suggest that we would all be much better off if we began to enjoy the present moment, if we learned from the past and if we embraced the future when it gets here.
Investing huge amounts of thought, emotion and concern on things that “might” happen is counterproductive to any life. Focus on what “is” happening, do your best to get that right, and by doing this consistently the future will naturally unfold in ways that will be a blessing. If you are struggling with your future, and are leaning into it before it gets here, then perhaps it is time learn the lesson of the snowflake.
The future and the change it brings are going to come no matter what you do. However, how you walk into it and what that future looks like really is up to you. Do the best you can today and when tomorrow’s snowflake drops into sight, you will be there to watch it and enjoy the shift it brings. It’s easy to do and simpler to walk in than you might imagine. The thing is, it’s the only way to love the life you live, and live the life you love.
So, go ahead and take a front row seat in the window of your own life. Sit back, sip that cup of coffee and watch for your snowflake to fall. Prepare the best you can, learn from your past and look to the future but don’t lean into it too heavily. Invest your time, talent, and emotions in the here and now, but look with healthy anticipation for your snowflake to fall. When it does, you will know in your “knower” that change has come, and life as you have lived it will never be the same.