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I’m not new to snow. But I am new to living where it snows right outside your doorstep, and where one is stuck with snow for around 5 months a year. And like anyone who is new to anything, like a child, I spent time watching and being mesmerized by it.

So here are a few of the many conversations that I had with this Vast Whiteness. We met just outside my door this morning and went for a walk.

—-

“The snowflake is water solidifying into structure,” said the Whiteness as I tried to catch some flakes floating down from the heavens.  “The universe is making patterns at the smallest scale. Nature creating micro-art.”

The flakes landed on my jacket, and as I brought my eyes closer to observe, the Vast Whiteness said, “Just because the snowflake is small and trivial doesn’t mean it should not deserve attention from the universe!” I nodded in agreement, still scrutinizing the flakes on my sleeve and pondering my own triviality.

I looked up and said, “There’s a motivational quote I think you’d find interesting. I don’t remember the exact words but maybe: We’re all unique, like snowflakes.” The Vast Whiteness laughed and I laughed along, realizing how tacky that sounded.

“Yes, in theory every snowflake is unique,” the Whiteness said. “And beautiful too, geometrically. But snowflakes are not snow. They are not snow until they are joined together.” I smiled at this idea. “And if you humans really are snowflakes, then you are insignificant as single individuals; but you are captivating as a group.” He was referring to us as a society. “As a society,” the Whiteness interrupted, reading my mind. “A single snowflake is fragile on its own. A single snowflake melts immediately. But snow… when all the snowflakes string themselves together… lasts all winter.”

The Vast Whiteness was right. We are beautiful together. And strong.

—-

As we walked into an alley near my house, we happened upon some children making a snowman. We stopped at a distance and watched carefully for a few minutes.

“Ah, the mighty snowman,” the Whiteness broke the silence. “Humans molding snow to create. Humans playing god with the snow.”

“But the snowman is imperfect,” I said, “because he is a reflection of an imperfect creator.”

“Of course!” replied the Whiteness. “You use buttons for eyes, a carrot for a nose, and raisins to make a smile, what do you expect? Those are your only tools to create.” That was true.  “Oh, and you impose a smile on the snowman because you want him to be happy. You force the snowman to be what you hope to be. It’s as if you don’t want him to experience the sadness of being human.”

“But why would we want him to experience our sadness?” I asked.

The Vast Whiteness interrupted, “Without the choice, that snowman is prisoner to the smile. With only a single emotion, he has no emotions.” Those words echoed in my mind.

“But humans do one good thing, I’ll give you that. You put a broom in the snowman’s hand because you understand that if you want to be human, you have to work.”

I watched the children wrap a scarf around their snowman’s cold neck. Ah, the mighty snowman, created against his will, into a life of labor.

“Only until the winter is gone,” The Whiteness read my mind again. “Then all the snowmen melt back into the universe.”

“Then what happens?”

“Then they wait. Winter always comes back, and the children always make more snowmen. That’s what children do.”

—-

And as we walked across a field, the Vast Whiteness put a hand on my shoulder and we stopped. Pointing to the space behind us, the Whiteness said, “Look! In the snow, your footsteps always remind you where you’ve been, but they never tell you where you’re supposed to be going.”

I must have looked silly with my big smile. I loved those words. Out here on the snow, the path forward is an infinite number of possibilities. Unlimited destinations.

—-

Time was running out, I was getting a bit cold, my nose was stuffy, and I had to return home. Nearing the end of the field, we stopped to part ways. But before I left, I asked the Vast Whiteness my last question. “Is it true that Eskimos have ninety-nine words for snow?”

“Well, I wouldn’t say ninety-nine,” smirked the Whiteness sarcastically, “but plenty of words, yes!”

“And why is that?” I pressed on.

“You and I have walked together out here today. Go back home, think about everything you’ve seen and heard in just these two hours. Then write about it,” the Whiteness replied.

“Ok, I will. But then what?”

“Then come back and tell me how many words you needed to describe it all.”

One Comment

  1. haitham says:

    It`s been a while since I imprinted any thing here :)
    Been visiting but not daring to comment I guess.
    ——–
    This was really a good read. (good as in perfect)
    I`m not a snowy person myself, last time it snowed in/on/at my city was 1991! Now in Scotland snow is just ,, ordinary! I “received” my 1st snowy fall + 1st head-pump 2 weeks ago, and it added to me liking yr entry here. But enough about me :D
    ——–

    When I read the title and delved thru the 1st couple of convos I was like: “that`s a longish name for snow!” but as I read further I guess (vast whiteness) was just in order :)

    “The Vast Whiteness was right. We are beautiful together. And strong” <== beautiful and strong, now that`s a rare combination :), we don`t get to experience these two together.
    ——–
    There r infinite # of possibilities alright, but we r so-ever consumed in the wrong paths until we find out,rather late, that we should have been simpler and just listened more {I guess}
    ——–
    Imperfect creators we r! By many means. But 1 thing kept banging on me; why snow(man), sa7!
    My daughter (who`s new to snow too) told me that she shall make a snow-girl and that she is sick of hearing all the ppl at school (her 1st time at school mind u!) that snowmen are fun and how to dress them and ,, and ,,
    ——-
    What about the children with no choice! What about them?
    ——-
    * How many words one is obliged to? :)
    ** Keep the convos coming, PLZ!

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