I often recite the Zen saying, “No snowflake falls in the wrong place,” when my life misaligns with the one I envisioned. Yes, I repeat it . . . um . . . often. During the height of my perfectionism I functioned as a snowflake air traffic controller (SATC) – closely tracking each snow flake, carefully identifying the safest landing spot and doing my best to prevent mid-air collisions. Needless to say, this job quickly grew exhausting. Snowflakes fell where they desired despite my best pointing efforts. Honestly, during some of my scariest whiteouts, I found no comfort in this saying; but rather, found myself saying f@#k the damn snowflakes! It’s cold. I’m uncomfortable, and I’m out here alone. However, the winds eventually let up. I looked up and saw glistening snowflakes slowly, gently, swirling and dancing in the air. When I shifted my focus to the snowflakes vs. the ground, I could finally see the ones which landed square on my nose.
During a recent phone call with my mother, she reminded me it’s part of the human condition to vacillate between enjoying the snowflakes and focusing on their landing spots. Whew! What a relief to know that I’m not the only one!
Recently, I gave myself an attitude adjustment after I found myself engaging in intensive SATC work. It helped that this modification involved grocery shopping at Trader Joe’s and carting home dark chocolate-covered almonds. When I pulled into my driveway, I saw my amazingly beautiful and optimistic 83-year-old neighbor and her son. She moved cautiously with her right hand tightly clenching her walker and left hand extended towards me. Her crystal blue eyes twinkled when she smiled. I took her frail, soft hand and commented how delighted I felt to see her. She told me I looked beautiful. (She also told me I looked beautiful on days when my hair was messily piled on my head, and I had a bag full of dog poo in hand.) Her son gently interrupted and explained they were going to the emergency room. My lovely neighbor’s health was visibly declining, and I knew this gorgeous snowflake would eventually melt. I hugged her, and she said, “I love you” to which I replied, “I love you too.” We were both keenly aware it could be our last meeting. I kissed her on the cheek as her son gently placed her in the front seat of their minivan. I waved as they pulled away and then immediately began to sob. I was not ready for this snowflake to melt or drift, but my SATC skills held no power here (or actually anywhere for that matter). A couple days later I spoke with her son who informed me she was weak but in good spirits. He explained they celebrated her birthday in the hospital. Then, he showed me a picture of her sweet frail body in a vast, sterile hospital bed. She wore a gorgeous, radiant smile, tiara on her head and a wand in her hand. Truly, a precious queen in her own right. As I write this blog, she is recovering in her home across the street. I am grateful I can enjoy this stunning snowflake a little while longer.