Lessons from the storm--happiness isn't free

Published on Nov 27, 2019

Last update: Dec 13, 2019

The storm

Whispers of the storm had been echoing around town for several days. First the forecast said 8 inches, then 10, then 14. It was shaping up to be a big one.

On Monday, Nov 25, the storm hit. It was one of the bigger snowfalls I’ve seen in Boulder since I was a kid. We got about two feet of snow at our house and temperatures were in the teens a single digits.

When this kind of weather rolls through, it’s easy to say, “Oh, the snow is so pretty to look at,” but to keep yourself, huddled inside working from home, despising any minute you’re forced to spend outside taking your dog potty or scraping your car.

I found myself in this mindset yesterday morning after 18 inches had already fallen and the snow continued to come down. I was sitting by the fire with a warm beverage clicking away at my computer. I’d decided that I was going to be as sedentary as possible, hiding out indoors with all my cozy comforts.

My dog, Skutull, is one of the most passionate animals/humans I know. And one of the things he’s most passionate about is snow. On mornings when we’re laying in bed waking up after storm, we’ll let him know that it snowed and he’ll run over to the window to look, tail wagging. The snow is one of his happy places.

As I was sitting by the fire, lost in a digital world, Skutull pawed at the door. He wanted to go out. I knew it was probably because he wanted to go play in the snow. I tried to convince myself that I didn’t need to take him. That he had been out only an hour earlier to go potty and right now he was just bored.

But then I realized that I was missing a great moment in our lives. I wasn’t being present, I was lost in my computer and phone. How often does it snow this much? Once per year? Once per three years? And I was going to deprive both myself and my dog of enjoying the storm because I wanted to sit in a comfortable temperature and get lost in my computer, which I do all day every day?

No, I told myself. If I were to remove all my responsibilities and long-term goals and live 100% in the present moment, I’d be out there experiencing the snow.

So I set down my drink, turned off my fireplace, and wrapped myself up in some warmer clothes. Skutull had the time of his life leaping and bounding through the deep snowbanks. As I was playing in the storm with my wife and dog, I knew that moment would end up being the best part of my week. And I almost missed it.

After about an half and hour of being goofy and having fun, Skutull’s paws started to hurt, so we headed home. When we got inside, we noticed this is what his underside looked like…

Skutull was pathetic and the snowballs all over his body and in between his toes were obviously causing him a lot of discomfort as they tugged and pulled on his fur with each movement.

Eventually Skutull thawed out, leaving a trail of water all throughout our house. It wasn’t fifteen minutes after we noticed Skutull was finally dry and snowball-free that he was back at the door asking to play in the snow again.

Responsibilities are important. Long-term goals have their place. And it’s worthwhile to give yourself those comforting moments by the fire on a snow day. But there’s a yin and yang for everything—a push and a pull. Don’t forget to be present. And remember that happiness always has a cost—sometimes you have to get uncomfortable and persevere, but that makes the destination sweeter.

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