I live in southern Minnesota and this is our snowiest year in about ten. It’s the exception that proves the rule to the trend of global warming (the preceding statement has not been verified by professional climatologists). I’m writing this to let you, especially those of you in Southern Florida, know about some of the benefits of shoveling snow. If you live somewhere that has alligators in the water hazards at this time of year, I thought you should know about the bliss experienced while shoveling snow. When you’re shoveling the driveway or the sidewalk for more than five minutes at a time your mind begins to wander.
Buddhist thought has plenty of explanations for this: the mind rejects inactivity, thoughts are secreted by the brain like the body produces sweat, etc. However, the experience is simply that of silly fantasies rising up in your mind while you’re flinging snow and your back is aching. For instance, today when I was shoveling the driveway against the ten below windchill I started thinking:
I am a great auteur, beloved by my countrymen and women. I am called upon by ABC Nightly News and others (with the glaring exception of Fox News) to comment upon the recession and our lack of national leadership. I manage to look both silver-haired and wizened as well as vigorous and sexy. I quote from Seneca. Pertinently.
I buy a house that I can live in with all four of my children. It’s an Arts & Crafts-style home, with built-in bookshelves, oak floors, a sleeping porch, and a large media room. It is not a “fixer-upper” and it has room for a garden.
A gene in my body converts fat into antioxidants. Another gene in my body converts stupid into smart.
I settle down with a lovely woman, born in China, who is the perfect mix of modern and traditional. Rather than being “snowbirds,” we become “Zhejiang birds” and return to this lovely Chinese province every winter.
Sting puts me on a £200,000 annual retainer to assist him with song ideas, rewrites, etc.
My body requires the mixture of chemicals in Diet Coke. It would be foolhardy, and a death sentence, for me to give it up.
I’ve written a poem about the moon that people all across the US read and can recite verbatim. An awards ceremony follows.
Sting reads about above fantasy on the blogosphere and has a good laugh. He calls me, asks for my address since he wants to send me one of his old Stratocasters. Says I’m a funny geezer. He does not offer me any retainer in exchange for song ideas or rewrites, however.
The bhante (monk) who runs the local meditation center invites me to travel along to Sri Lanka with him. I study Sinhalese with a book and CD from Barnes & Noble. When I arrive in Colombo I find I am fluent enough to say, “I can get my own bags, please don’t trouble yourself.” I become fairly enlightened (for a layperson) and contented. I am encouraged to marry a Sri Lankan woman who is gorgeous, crazy about me and speaks English with a British accent. There are tropical flowers everywhere.
I change my name to Diablo Evans and write an Oscar-nominated screenplay.