17 December 2007


You learn something of the brokenness of the world when you shovel snow. Not (simply) in some undisturbed-now-despoiled, aching-all-over, making-little-headway, sweating-profusely, your-wife-can-shovel-more-than-you metaphorical kind of way, but in a straightforward the-world-is-a-broken-place kind of way.

You learn that you disdain those who, for no reason of physical disability, use snow blowers instead of their backs, and that you disdain more greatly those who can't be bothered even to attempt to clear their walks. You learn which houses are vacant due to eviction, deportation, or some other reason. You learn how little you know of your neighbors most of the rest of the year. You learn that families that seemed happy are broken, but hold out hope for restoration though that hope seems faint. You learn, when you make small talk and ask if there is anything you can do, that part of you is sincere, but most of you isn't. You learn that people get lung cancer, though it's their own damn fault from smoking all those damn cigarettes. You marvel at that attitude, and you wonder how families cope with such news, and you wonder when you'll go out to shovel snow and be the only one shoveling; when you'll be reminded again that the world is still broken.

And you learn that when you shovel snow early in the morning there's a good chance you'll need to shovel again later in the day. But you go and shovel anyway, despite the brokenness you'll encounter.

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