Written by Morgan Proffitt.
The snow makes me poetic. The falling snowflakes, each one gentle and unique; the ground covered with a blanket of white; the cold air filling my lungs, waking me up as I trudge through the powdery drifts. Everywhere I looked this week I was blinded by the glittering white of the snow, everything covered with a dust that made it look better than before.
New snow looks like a clean slate, like a beckoning chance to start over. No one has run through and left their footprints behind. No one, at least not yet, has charged a path, shoveling and scraping to get back to the ground they know. New snow is a breath of fresh air, covering up the hurt and pain of the ground below it and acting as the great equalizer to all those it comes into contact with.
This last week has made me think a lot about clean slates and starting over. As a senior about to graduate in two and a half months, most days it feels a little too late to have a clean slate. How can I start over if I’m about to leave? I feel the tension of my future like a string being stretched — everyday I’m coming closer to the reality of adulthood, and every day I feel like a thinner version of myself.
The snow, while beautiful, is anything but convenient. Classes canceled, businesses forced to reduce their hours, cars stuck under piles of snow, clothes wet and cold. The snow, while we might not immediately recognize it as such, forces us to sacrifice, to change for the sake of nature. We didn’t get to choose the foot of snow that surrounded us. I didn’t get to choose the complete break of my schedule. But in this forced disruption, I was made aware just how beautiful it is to just walk with nowhere in mind. To wake up and work on what I could with what I had. To have no schedule and learn to appreciate the freedom. In this sacrifice of “normal,” I was asked what was worth doing. The answer, surprisingly, wasn’t all the things I typically fill my schedule with. It was spending time with friends, being out in the beautiful world around me, and choosing to do things that gave me life, even if they were societally considered a “waste of time.”
It was in one of these trudges to Midnight Oil that I realized it’s not too late for me to have a clean slate — in fact, it will never be too late. The gift of life is that every day we get the chance to forge new paths, to change direction and trust our own feet, not the prints before us. As cliche as it sounds, no matter how far into your college career, you can change. You can give up the things in your life that weigh heavy and burdensome, and you can choose to pick up a yoke that is easy and a burden that is light. You can trust that with the sacrifice of what’s known or certain, you can uncover a life that is both lighter and brighter.
This past week began the Lenten Season with Ash Wednesday, a time typically marked by fasting from something for the six week duration of the season. As we in the Christian tradition prepare our hearts for Easter, consider what in your life is worth doing, and what is worth giving up for the sake of something better. As my friend Nathan recently wrote:
“Breathe life into this dust;
We are but dust.
Lead us into death;
To dust we shall return.”