Snow Days!

In the Piedmont of North Carolina, accumulating snow is a rare and marvelous event. Conditions have to be just perfect; we tend to get either cold rain, awful sleet and freezing rain, or a boring cloudy day.

We also don’t budget much for snowplows and few people know how to drive on snow, so snow that doesn’t immediately melt closes down schools for a day or two. An extra holiday is great, so as a boy I would eagerly watch the forecast (one to two inches!) and get very excited planning my snow day. No need to do homework, right?  Eventually, though, I learned to subtract 3 inches from the predicted snowfall. My adjusted prediction of -1 inches of snow meant homework and school the next day, darn it.

I’m not arguing for pessimism. Always expecting the worst might save disappointment, but it also makes me very gloomy, self-defeated, and likely to make excuses instead of try. Fatalism isn’t the answer, either, because I can exert some control over many things in my life. (I can’t control the weather, but I could choose to move to somewhere much snowier or spend vacation days on random Tuesdays.)

I still adjust the local forecasts by subtracting three inches. First, the adjustment fits reality better, and seeing the world with less distortion helps plan better. Second, it still saves disappointment. But now it occurs to me that the disappointment happens as much because of my expectations as the weather. That is, demanding that reality fit my wishes sets me up to be unhappy. A more zen approach would be to hope for the fun vacation day without demanding it.  People can work toward their goals and enjoy life’s gifts along the way.

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