Sometimes we cover what is there to try to produce a facsimile of beauty. We cover up signs of age with makeup and hair cream. We touch up photographs to display them in magazines and online. We change our appearance, hide the experiences we consider inappropriate, fail to acknowledge our mistakes. We wear figurative masks to obscure our true identities, worried that others will judge us, shame us, maybe abandon us if they can see who we really are.
But other times, covering what is present can highlight simplicity, and in so doing can reveal beauty that is otherwise hidden. So it is for me as snow swirls from the sky, nestling the earth in a thick blanket. Roads, sidewalks, parking lots, fields and forests are all covered equally, without regard to their origins, features, and meanings. The snow does not judge between humanmade and natural structures, does not judge utility or refinement or beauty… it simply falls, subdues, and simplifies.
Snow shrinks the boundaries of our world. As it falls, its swirling presence limits our field of vision. As it accumulates, it limits our movement in a time of seemingly limitless motion and energy. Snow holds us in place, holds us down, holds us close. It helps us recognize what is essential.
Snow reminds us that everything has its limits: beauty, motion, energy, heat, sound, light, life. Everything has its beginning and its ending. We may try to capture, slow down, extend, and grasp, but each entity moves at its own pace. Maybe instead of trying to force life to move at our pace, we would do well to move at the pace of life. Instead of questioning, cursing, and damning the limits, sometimes we would do well to accept them.
Maybe that is what the snow can teach us. That is where the beauty of the snow truly lies.
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