Tuesday, December 28, 2010


I've just enjoyed my second metro-crippling blizzard of this young winter of 2010-11. This one, billed as the blizzard of the decade, has just left cocksure Boston speechless.

It's been an opportunity for me to try on, once more, the baggy coat of acceptance, a garment whose fit depends on not its own but the wearer's measure.

I'd spent Christmas with my daughter and her family at the home of her in-laws in Maine. My flight home from Boston was scheduled to leave Monday afternoon. When I heard the storm was plowing its way up the coast, I decided to drive down Sunday and beat the monster.

I chose not to fear nor curse the uncertainty, but to look deeply into it, marveling at the darkness of so much white.

The strategy didn't work. By the time I hit Portland, I was right in the face of the blizzard. Crawling down I-95, I felt as much as steered my way through the whiteout, nudged by gusting crosswinds. The ghostly tail lights of the semi in front of me became my guide and my meditation. I chose not to fear nor curse the uncertainty, but to look deeply into it, marveling at the darkness of so much white.

Monday morning, safe at my daughter's home in Boston, my reverie lapsed into frustration when Delta told me they wouldn't rebook that afternoon's canceled flights until Thursday or Friday, even though I knew thousands of people would be taking off from Logan Tuesday. The bile of indignation welled in my throat when the agent implied that, by not being willing to consider an alternate airport for departure—like Philadelphia—I was being inflexible. I was getting angry and I didn't like it.

I swallowed hard, trying to unclench my right to be in control. I told the woman I realized this wasn't her fault and hung up. I considered whether this was any more a personal affront than the blizzard itself had been. I realized the situation simply was what it was, that, in fact, it was no more or less than exactly what it was meant to be. I made up my mind I would enjoy it.

I realized the situation was no more or less than exactly what it was meant to be.

With this conversion from combatant to observer, I found my fate curiously changed. My very next try—this time unencumbered by expectation—rewarded me with a new flight where none had been available just minutes before, a flight not on Thursday or Friday, but Wednesday.

What I could easily have seen as an ordeal, I've embraced as a bonus, an unexpected two-day extension of my Christmas vacation. I've marveled at the beauty of all this snow. Though my daughter's still in Maine, I've enjoyed spending time in her lovely home. I've bonded with Cleo, her cat. I've read, watched a good movie and slept late. I've walked her daily route into town and enjoyed a leisurely latte at her favorite coffee shop, sitting next to the display of her handcrafts on the wall. And I've discovered that an extended texting conversation with her, despite— or perhaps because of—the sparing choices of words and abbreviations, can be warm and witty.

And I've written this. This too is a wonderful gift, a gift that derives from nothing more than the way things fall and swirl, like so many exquisite snowflakes, in this matrix where intention, acceptance and possibility intersect.


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