My city -- the city of Atlanta -- shut down yesterday. I love it when that happens.
I admit that its no picnic for everyone. Getting stuck on the interstate for six hours or more truly stinks, and I feel for the thousands of travelers who are dealing with less than ideal circumstances. In fact, given the posts of distress I've witnessed in social media, I feel a tad bit guilty sharing this at all.
But for those of us snug in our homes, there is another story to tell about Atlanta's Snow Slam 2014, and here it is:
If you're safe and warm, there is almost nothing better than a bonafide, everything's-closed-so-why-not-enjoy-it kind of a snow day.
A surprise, weather-induced day off is a phenomenon that is universally appreciated. The little child in each of us has a chance to surface. Like a mandated sabbatical from the collective conscience, it's a kind of offering from mother nature.
I discussed this heavy philosophical point with my neighbors, last night, as we watched the kids drags orange and blue sleds up the hill, determined to make a run all the way from the top to the bottom without crashing into mailboxes or parked cars.
Let there be rest, and peace, and quiet. Let things slow down into a reasonable pace. Let there be family togetherness, and community bonding -- without a national holiday. Yes, let there be play!
During my college years at Wes we prided ourselves on a simple philosophy: we worked hard, and we played hard. There was both synergy and symmetry to that -- we achieved a kind of balance that is difficult to maintain outside of those ivory-covered walls.
As adults, we seem to have the work side of the equation down pat. We work at the office, we work at home, we help kids with their home-work, and we even work out at exercise. I know one woman who took a month to learn to ski and called it her "ski job."
But the play side of the equation? All too often, that gets the short end of the stick.
I believe in the power of play. I'm fascinated by Stuart Brown's play styles ("PLAY: How it Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination and Invigorates the Soul" by Stuart Brown, M.D., Founder of the National Institute for Play), and as a coach I encourage parents to make time to play with their kids. Our play types help us find play in our everyday lives, including our work. It's amazing how much you can rejuvenate your work when you remember to connect it to how you play! As Brown says, "In the long run, work does not work without play."
For me, I absolutely love my work so much that I forget I'm working. That's the good news. The bad news, for my family and myself, is that I tend to work way too much.
But the snow day offers a rare kind of wish fulfillment, as important for me as it is for the kids. It's a chance to practice what I preach. A snow day is like that extra day of the week we always wish we had, a gift of extra time. But its not to "get stuff done." It's more like permission to get nothing done!
The snow fell fast in Atlanta. We had 2 inches accumulate and it snowed for hours. The Canadians may have been laughing at us, but we southerners get it right: when the snow starts falling, we stop, we play and we cook!
Last night, we ventured outside to enjoy the winter wonderland building it's set outside our door. I resisted my initial urge to stay warm and inside. I layered up, and joined the party. I even cajoled my teenager into joining me.
Like different parts of a symphony, it was as if an invisible conductor was in charge. One by one, my neighbors' doors opened. The sun had set, the streetlights reflected off the snow, and there were more than a dozen people -- adults and children -- sledding and throwing snowballs, laughing with pure abandon.
It was 9 p.m. and the street was alive with multiple generations at play.
School was clearly going to be cancelled. Immensely grateful for the welcome break from routine, we got a little extra sleep, and a little more time with our friends. When there is nothing you really HAVE to do, it is a pleasure to allow yourself to do what you WANT in the moment. I'd forgotten how much fun it can be to pelt a 12-year-old with a fluffy snowball at point blank range!
Several hot toddies from last night not withstanding, I feel rejuvenated today. It's amazing, really. After weeks of time off from work and school -- with the holidays and New Year's right on top of each other -- what all of us needed more than anything was a true break. THIS has proven to be a great way to start the new year.