I enjoy wintertime a little less each year. As a child, the first snowfall of the year promised fun and excitement for the weeks and months to come. As an adult, the first flakes falling from the sky find me estimating my utility bill. Plus, my recent 60 lbs. weight loss finds me feeling really cold for the first time in ages. With the holidays over and resolutions already broken, I was settling down into my annual midwinter funk. I even had a plan: I'd hibernate with a television and come back out of my cave in April.
Two good friends intervened. The first suggested that I find something to enjoy about the season, perhaps a hobby or activity that could get me looking forward in anticipation to a good snowfall. A few days later the second friend provided me with an opportunity to put the advice into practice. "How about taking the youth group tubing over the long weekend?" Now, I am always looking for good, fun activities for young people that do not require electronics or a screen, so it was an easy sell to get this on the activities calendar.
We faced the gray sky and white hill with a rainbow assortment of snow boards, inner tubes, and plastic sleds in all kinds of shapes. It was an afternoon of much joy and laughter, so much so that we were almost unaware of the chilly 14 degrees. I ran my sled over a ramp to the amazement of the youth-I was too embarrassed to tell them that I was snow-blind and did not know it was there. Resisting the urge to cry out "I'm alive" I instead gave them the thumbs-up sign from the bottom of the hill. Winter may never become my favorite season, but there is definitely something sound to the idea of embracing it instead of fighting against it.
It is a good lesson for life in general, too. Sometimes there are difficult situations that we would rather procrastinate about or avoid dealing with all together. The relative ease of life in 2011 and our cultural expectation of comfort find us looking for "the easy button" for every hardship. Some problems, unpleasant as they may be, can only be dealt with by facing them directly. The character of the most courageous and wise among us was often developed because they persevered through a challenge instead of running away.
The famous mountaineer George Mallory was asked by a reporter why he wanted to climb Mount Everest. Whether it's overcoming a mild disinclination towards snow or tackling a major life decision, may we face our challenges with the same resolve: "Because it's there."
Ian Eastman, M.A., is a community educator with Family Services of Warren County-a charitable agency that provides counseling, substance abuse services, and support groups.